DDoS, or distributed denial of service, is the practice by which a website's servers are flooded with requests until they become overloaded, taking the website offline. The petition compares it to "repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage."
TechDirt described DDoS as a "modern equivalent to the sit-in," a civil disobedience tactic popularized by student activists in the 1960s. Clog the hallway of a government office with enough people, and it effectively ceases to function; direct enough traffic to a website, and the same thing happens.
However, media and government have described DDoS as a form of hacking, or even cyberterrorism. Recently, members of Anonymous used DDoS to bring down websites in Israel as part of "OpIsrael," a response to the conflict in Gaza that erupted last November.
While DDoS played a big role in the campaign, government and military websites were also defaced, and databases leaked or reportedly destroyed.
The petition also seeks that anyone jailed for DDoS be released and have their record expunged of the offense. The document had more than 2,700 signatures as of Jan. 12. It requires 25,000 signatures by Feb. 6 in order to warrant a response from the White House.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated DDoS stood for direct denial of service; it stands for distributed denial of service.