I'm liking the new E-petitions feature on the 10 Downing Street website. It lets you create online petitions and add your name to exisiting ones. It launched yesterday I think, and there's already 85 petitions. The petition with the highest number of signatures reads "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to create a new exception to copyright law that gives individuals the right to create a private copy of copyrighted materials for their own personal use, including back-ups, archiving and shifting format", created by Open Rights Group Executive Director Suw Charman.
Each petition is given a deadline for attracting signatures, after which every petition gets an official Government response. You have to be a UK resident to create or sign a petition, and must give your full name and address. It will be interesting to see whether people will try to bump up signature counts with automated submissions, and to find out whether the number of signatures really makes a difference.
There's already plenty of quirky petitions, including "keep HP sauce in Britain", "resign immedietly" and "replace the national anthem with 'Gold' by Spandau Ballet", as well as some more serious ones.
The site is still in 'beta' phase, and has been created by the MySociety team, so may be improved and updated over the coming months. My initial reaction was that they could add an 'anti-signature' feature which allowed people to disagree with petitions, but perhaps that's too provocative and missing the point.
All in all, it seems like a great idea, implemented in a much cleaner, more understanable way than the BBC's fairly similar Action Network site.
Site discovered via Matt Deegan.