Using The Internet To Petition The Government

photo of John Michael Pierobon By: John Michael Pierobon

The first amendment of the constitution of the United States of America gives its citizens the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I felt the need to petition the federal government when I found out that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering regulating local telephone calls to my local Internet Service Provider (ISP) as a long distance telephone call. If the FCC is going to begin regulating this, it will begin taxing it. If you do not believe me, just look at your telephone bill and note all the taxes, fees, and surcharges.

I went to the FCC web site ( and got their e-mail address ( and I sent my comments to them via e-mail.

The Library of Congress has a Web site that has the entire record of what goes on in Congress, since the 101st Congress. Named after Thomas Jefferson, it has a powerful search engine to help you find the information you are looking for. The address is:

In 1995 I wrote to my congressman (this is before he had e-mail) asking him to support a certain piece of legislation. I received a letter in response stating he would co-sponsor the bill. Nine months after that letter I visited and out of curiosity I checked and noticed my congressman had not been listed as a co-sponsor of this legislation. So I called the congressman's office, pointed this out, and the very next day he appeared as a co-sponsor in the Congressional Record.

The State of Florida has its own legislative web site. The address is: It is quite complete. From it you can obtain copies of Florida statutes, as well as obtain the e-mail addresses of all 120 state representatives and 40 state senators. It also has links to other Florida government web sites.

During the impeachment trial of President Clinton, many Americans felt the need to communicate electronically with their senator. In early January, the daily volume of e-mail messages to the Senate reached 500,000, which is nearly double the router capacity. No wonder the Senate had some difficulty processing the e-mail. Things are back to normal now that the trial is over, and the Senate receives only about 100,000 e-mail messages a day.

During the impeachment trial, I wrote to President Clinton ( If you do write to the president, you will get an instant reply, generated by an automated respondent.

I thought no one ever read messages sent to until one day a few months ago when I got a call from the Secret Service. How did I know it really was the Secret Service, and not someone trying to pull a prank? The person on the telephone gave me his name and told me to look up the telephone number of the Secret Service which is located on the first page of the phone book and to call that number and ask for him. Yes, it was the Secret Service. They called to enlist my help in tracking down the author of a threatening e-mail message to the president, and I helped them find that person.

The Secret Service treats all threats against the president as serious, just as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) treats all bomb treats at airports as serious. So, if you are going to address the government, I encourage you to do so in a positive, non-threatening manner.

John Michael Pierobon is an Internet consultant based in Fort Lauderdale.
John Michael may be reached by sending electronic mail to

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