White House launches ‘Write’ API for We the People platform

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2014_10_Screen-Shot-2014-10-23-at-3.58.43-PM The “We the People” petitioning platform’s website. (Credit: The White House)

The “We the People” petition platform isn’t just for the White House’s website anymore.

Three years after the launch of the platform, which allows citizens to gather signatures on a petition for causes that range from the development of a Death Star to action on gun control, the White House announced Thursday the launch of an application programming interface called “Write” to enable petitions to be embedded on other websites.

“Starting today, people can sign ‘We the People’ petitions even when they’re not on WhiteHouse.gov,” Leigh Heyman, the White House’s director of new media technologies, said in a blog post. “Now, users can also use third-party platforms, including other petitions services, or even their own websites or blogs. All of those signatures, once validated, will count towards a petition’s objective of meeting the 100,000-signature threshold needed for an official White House response.”

Through the API, users can sign already-existing petitions on interfaces other than petitions.whitehouse.gov. According to the post from the White House, more hackathons will be held in the future to “highlight the opportunities on the platform, and to give the community the ability to collaborate around building new applications.”

“The Petitions ‘Write’ API takes a strong step toward making it easier than ever for people to petition their government,” Heyman said in the post. “At the same time, we also hope it serves as a model for a new way of delivering government services online.”

Heyman also said the API is built on an infrastructure that created and supported by the General Services Administration’s 18F and the work of Presidential Innovation Fellows.

Developers need to request a “Write” API key to use the API. To request the API, developers must provide their names, email addresses, phone numbers and organization and accept the terms of use for the API.

Through the terms of use, developers are required to indicate that the app or website uses data pulled from the “We the People” platform but is not endorsed or certified by the White House. The document also said any data that passes through the API is subject to the Presidential Records Act and may be archived.

The newly released API comes just less than a year after the White House announced a beta version of the “Write” API. In May 2013, the “Read” API, which provided read-only access to all petitions that passed the 150 signature threshold, was launched. According to the White House, petitions that pass 150 signatures are publicly displayed on the “We the People” main page; however, a petition must receive more than 100,000 in order to receive an official response from the White House. In 2012, just a year after the platform’s launch, the White House shifted it to open source and posted the code for the platform on GitHub.

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API, Applications & Software, apps, big data, data analytics, Government IT News, Leigh Heyman, open data, open source, Read, Tech, We the People, White House, Write