The White House has just unveiled a new public petition website, "We the People," promising to respond to every petition submitted by anyone online that draws 5,000 or more digital signatures in a month or less.
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What could possibly go wrong with that?
Three words: Anonymous, LulzSec and 4chan. Or, if you prefer, just one: marijuana.
But let's back up. There's a good argument to be made that White House has admirable intentions in unveiling the new petition submissions website, which will live at www.whitehouse.gov/wethepeople. (Right now, the site is just in a very limited preview phase and is soliciting e-mail addresses from interested people who can sign up to receive updates when the site launches in full, sometime in the coming weeks.)
It is the latest public relations push in President Obama's "Open Government," initiative, a memorandum signed on his first day in office in 2009 to improve transparency from federal agencies, largely by relying on new digital tools like the government spending-tracking websites data.gov and recovery.gov.