White House speeds up (and opens up) online petitions

The White House's We the People site is supposed to help the government hear your calls for change, but that isn't quite how it worked out: backlogs meant that it took ages to respond to petitions. You'll be glad to hear that the service is getting a much-needed tune-up, though. As of today, the White House plans to respond to any petition that hits the 100,000-signature goal within 60 days "wherever possible." There's also a new team dedicated solely to making sure that the right people see a petition, which should help cut through some of the bureaucratic hierarchy.

The feds are taking some additional steps to open up the platform, too. It's posting the code for We the People to Drupal and GitHub in the hopes that other organizations (ideally, including other governments) can use it to create their own petition systems.

None of these improvements guarantee that the White House will actually say "yes" to petitions, of course. Just ask those whose hopes of a pardon for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were shot down at the same time as the White House unveiled its We the People reforms. This effort should still be a big help for relatively safe causes (think of the smartphone unlocking petition), but don't be surprised if it mostly leads to hearing quicker "nos" on hot-button topics.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Andy Wong]