World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Online petition

Article Id: WHEBN0002050454
Reproduction Date:

Title: Online petition  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject:, Online petitions, Jacob Ostreicher, External links/Noticeboard/Archive 4, Collaborative e-democracy
Collection: Online Petitions, Politics and Technology, World Wide Web
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Online petition

An online petition (or Internet petition, or e-petition) is a form of petition which is signed online, usually through a form on a website. Visitors to the online petition sign the petition by adding their details such as name and email address. Typically, after there are enough signatories, the resulting letter may be delivered to the subject of the petition, usually via e-mail. The online petition may also deliver an email to the target of the petition each time the petition is signed.

For example: In 2005, fans of American pop singer Michael Jackson had started an online petition for an official DVD release of a concert from the singer's first solo tour, the Bad world tour with heavy interest in one of the seven sold-out shows at the Wembley Stadium in London. In 2012, one of the shows from July 16, 1988 attended by 72,000 fans including Prince Charles of Wales and Princess Diana of Wales, was found on Jackson's personal VHS copy of the performance and was officially released on September 18, 2012 packaged in a 25th anniversary special edition reissue of the Bad album.


  • Pros and cons 1
  • History 2
    • E-mail petitions 2.1
    • World Wide Web 2.2
  • E-government petitions in Europe and Australia 3
  • E-government petitions in the United States 4
  • Debate over efficacy 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Pros and cons

The format makes it easy for people to make a petition at any time. Several websites allow anyone with computer access to make one to protest any cause, such as stopping construction or closure of a store. Because petitions are easy to set up, the site can attract frivolous causes, or jokes framed in the ostensible form of a petition.[1]

Online petitions may be abused if signers don't use real names, thus undermining its legitimacy. Verification, for example via a confirmation e-mail can prevent padding a petition with false names and e-mails. Many petition sites now have safeguards to match real world processes; such as local governments requiring protest groups to present petition signatures, plus their printed name, and a way to verify the signature (either with a phone number or identification number via a driver's license or a passport) to ensure that the signature is legitimate and not falsified by the protestors.[2]

There are now several major web initiatives featuring online petitions, for example

  • Petitions at DMOZ
  • Activism Petition, international Online Petition Platform
  • UK Government e-petitions

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e Copy of the article now available at
  3. ^ A town crier in the global village, The Economist, 2 September 2010. Accessed 20 January 2011.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ PM emails road pricing signatories,, 20 February 2007. Accessed 31 August 2008.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^


See also

As is the case with public perceptions of slacktivism, Internet petitions are both a popular resort of web-based activism and a target of criticism from those who feel that such petitions are often disregarded by their targets because of the anonymity of petition signers;, for example, sides against the usage of Internet petitions as a method of activism.[2] On the other hand, the creators of petition hosts, such as Randy Paynter of Care2 and, have defended web-based petitions as being more feasible, credible and effective than e-mail petitions,[19] claiming they are not fairly judged as a method of activism by their critics. Since then, has removed the text about the inefficacy of internet petitions.[2]

Debate over efficacy

Other groups are attempting to establish electronic petitioning as a way to streamline and make existing citizens' [18]

As of January 15, 2013, petitions are required now to gather 100,000 signatures in 30 days in order to get reviewed by Administration officials and receive an official response.[17]

The White House originally required petitions to gather 5,000 signatures within 30 days, after which time policy officials in the administration would review the petition and would issue an official response. However, shortly after it was launched, that threshold was changed so that as of October 3, 2011, petitions required gathering 25,000 signatures in 30 days in order to get reviewed by Administration officials.[15] After more than 12,000 people signed a petition in October 2011 asking if the U.S. government had contact with aliens, the White House issued an official statement via the White House Office of Science and Technology.[16] The statement said that the White House has found no evidence that extraterrestrial life exists in the universe or that another life form has made contact with the planet Earth. According to spokesman Phil Larson: “In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye.” [16]

On September 22, 2011, President Obama's administration created We The People, a platform that gives all American citizens a way to create and sign petitions on the White House web server, Any American 13 or older, after creating a account, can make or sign a petition asking the Obama Administration to take action.[14]

E-government petitions in the United States

Under the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 the petitions duty requires all principal authorities to provide a facility for people to submit petitions electronically. This requirement came into force on December 15, 2010.

Some parliaments, government agencies and officials, such as The Scottish Parliament with the e-Petitioner system (from 1999), the Queensland Parliament in Australia,[10] German Bundestag[11] (from 2005) and Bristol City Council[12] in the U.K have adopted electronic petitioning systems as a way to display a commitment to their constituents and provide greater accessibility into government operations.[13]

The UK government e-petitions system was suspended in April 2010 but then reopened in a new guise in August 2011, with time allocated for parliamentary debate a possibility for petitions attracting more than 100,000 signatures.[9]

Simulated bus advertisement used to promote an e-Petition to the British Prime Minister[8]

E-government petitions in Europe and Australia

The rise of online social networking in the later 2000s, however, resulted in both an increase of Internet petition integration into social networks and an increase of visibility for such petitions; social media and user-generated content. Such networks may have proven to be more fertile ground for the creation of, signing of and response to online petitions, as such networks generally lack the heightened level of anonymity associated with the earlier dedicated petition hosts.

With the rise of the World Wide Web as a platform for commerce, activism and discussion, an opportunity to garner attention for various social causes was perceived by various players, resulting in a more formalized structure for online petitions; one of the first web-based petition hosts, PetitionOnline, was founded in 1999, with others such as GoPetition (founded in 2000),[7], iPetitions, and others being established in the years since. Petition hosts served as accessible external locations for the creation of a wide variety of petitions for free by users, providing easier interfaces for such petitions in comparison to the previous e-mail petitions and informal web forum-based petitions. However, petition hosts were criticized for their lax requirements from users who created or signed such petitions: petitions were often only signed with false or anonymous nomenclatures, and often resulted in disorganized side commentary between signers of the same petition.

World Wide Web

A similar form of petition is the e-mail petition. This petition may be a simple chain letter, requesting that its users forward them to a large number of people in order to meet a goal or to attain a falsely promised reward. Other times the ussage will contain a form to be printed and filled out, or a link to an offsite online petition which the recipient can sign. Usually, the e-mail petition focuses on a specific cause that is meant to cause outrage or ire, centering on a timely political or cultural topic.[2] E-mail petitions were among the earliest attempts to garner attention to a cause from an online audience.

E-mail petitions


In February 2007 an online petition against road pricing and car tracking on the UK Prime Minister's own website attracted over 1.8 million e-signatures from a population of 60 million people. The site was official but experimental at the time.[5] Shocked government ministers were unable to backtrack on the site's existence in the face of national news coverage of the phenomenon. The incident has demonstrated both the potential and pitfalls of online e-Government petitions. It remains to be seen if policy will be permanently affected.[6]

Some legitimate slacktivism.[2]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.