Thursday, 3 December 2009


The Scottish Parliament was the first legislature in the world to accept e-petitions. A what I hear you ask! Basically, its a petition which we would host on our website which allows people (from all over the world) to go in, view it online, add their e-signature and enter into a discussion forum where they can, if they wish, put forward an opposing view to that set out by the petitioner. You can view our e-petition site here.
E-petitioning is often cited as a good example of e-democracy. Now that opens up an entire debate as to what e-democracy is which I am not going to go into here but we are proud of the opportunity which e-petitioning has provided to encourage and provide a further option for people to participate in the public petitions process as a democratic process. To give you some stats, around 3/4 of the petitions that come forward, the petitioner want to go up as an e-petition. Since 2000 when the first e-petition was hosted, there have been over 100,000 e-signatures and over 3,000 discussion comments. Site usage is over 1 million hits per month. Pretty impressive!
Of course, since then many other legislatures (and local authorities) have introduced e-petitioning systems - Queensland, Bundestag to name two of the big players in this field. E-petitioning has also enhanced the world profile of our public petitioning process here. However, the core of a petitioning process must be the scrutiny that is given to the petition itself, whether e or not. It is what the Parliament does with it. That is where the role of the PPC here is so crucial.
The reason for raising this issue is that we are now taking forward a project to revamp our e-petition site. We want to improve the appearance and functionality of it, introduce more modern technologies eg Web2.0 and offer more facilities to users which will allow us to share more information about the petition with them. Central to this project is ensuring we maintain ease of use for users. So, what would you like our new system to do? If there is a feature which you think the new system should have, let me know. At the end of the day, it must meet the needs of petitioners and the people who want to access e-petitions.
Fergus, Clerk to the PPC

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