If you’ve never heard of it, “We The People” was a platform for online petitions that was introduced by the US Government some time ago. Last year, President Obama dreamt of a partnership that would allow the government to share the technology not only with other sites on the US, including other petition websites but with organizations around the world, which opens up an enormous opportunity for potential change throughout several international governing bodies. While the technology may not be anything ground-breaking, it has certainly triggered an influx of attention as we can see from dozens of other resources, such as Change.org.
So what does it actually mean that the petition platform once only used on WhiteHouse.Gov is now open-source? Under the GNU General Public License, the code is now available for anyone to download, copy, and use in their own form or forms without any worry of copyright or trademark infringement within the platform. Additionally, it’s not limited by who can use it, regardless of where the host of the platform is located. Essentially, someone could use the platform while living next door to the White House.
With an open-source platform, the US government has taken a crucial step in helping other countries’ residents create their own petitions online to move for both change and progression in their own economies. It also allows small organizations and lower-level governments, like state and local, to use the application for their own benefit.
But what’s missing in most of the news regarding the announcement of the Obama administration’s “We the People” platform is the bigger picture. Ideally, the Democrats want to create an open platform not only for petitions but for all types of technology that they use to within their space. This essentially could save nearly $250 million dollars per year. By making technology open source, there are lots of programmers that will now have access and the willingness to put forth the time to make projects such as this one even better than they were before, and the White House could then take that technology and implement it on their own end.
To date, the “We The People” platform has generated plenty of buzz within the White House site alone, creating petitions that include decisions on the SOPA and PIPA acts, as well as making student debt easier to overcome, petitions against “police brutality” and even petitions involving the mix of church and state throughout governmental elements such as currency.