Ratified well over 200 years ago, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees our right to petition the government. Petitions are nothing new to U.S. citizens, but the ability to create and share them online is.
Launched in September 2011, We the People is a section of WhiteHouse.gov dedicated to creating open conversation between citizens and their government. Anyone can submit a petition on nearly any topic and solicit signatures. Petitions that receive more than 25,000 signatures in 30 days will be reviewed by government officials and receive an official response.
Technology is a hot topic on the petition website. Here are four that have garnered attention recently:
Petition: Require free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research.
We believe in the power of the Internet to foster innovation, research, and education. Requiring the published results of taxpayer-funded research to be posted on the Internet in human and machine readable form would provide access to patients and caregivers, students and their teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other taxpayers who paid for the research. Expanding access would speed the research process and increase the return on our investment in scientific research.
Petition: Declassify Tesla papers and donate them to the new Tesla science center at Wardenclyfe
We the People hereby petition President Obama to issue an executive order for the immeadiate declassification, and release of all personal effects, memoirs, and diarys in the possession of the federal government having belonged to one Nikola Tesla
To: the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyfe
For: the enjoyment and education of the american public
And to be made available for all on the internet
Petition: Increase the budget of NASA.
NASA has inspired the minds of people all throughout our country for 54 years. From the Moon to Mars, and even to the outer reaches of our Solar System, NASA has developed technologies that expand far beyond space flight. Instead of cutting NASA's budget, we should be growing it. Not doubling or tripling, but at least keeping its funding at the levels it has been or greater. Compared to other federal agencies, NASA receives a microscopic amount of money.
In the words of Neil deGrasse Tyson, "We stopped dreaming." We need to start dreaming again, and that starts with funding NASA adequately. By investing in NASA, we are investing in the U.S. economy.
While the petitions above make a good case for change, they certainly have detractors. This fourth, and most interesting, petition takes the conversation about space exploration and technology to a new level.
Petition: Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.
Those who sign here petition the United States government to secure funding and resources, and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016.
By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.
Because it has passed the necessary 25,000 votes, this petition will receive a response from the White House. The site also tracks responses to other popular petitions, which you can read here. A few technology-related responses include replies to “Digitizing Federal Public Records,” “Combating Online Piracy while Protecting an Open and Innovative Internet” and “Doubling and Tripling What We Can Accomplish in Space.” On a lighter note, you can also find out how beer is brewed in the White House.
Anyone can create and sign petitions, and if you feel so inclined, you can create an account here. What are your thoughts on the future of government technology? Let us know in the Comments section below.