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How the USPS Killed Digital Mail

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the my-mailbox-might-as-well-be-a-recycling-bin dept.

United States 338

An anonymous reader writes "In 2013, a startup called Outbox drew a lot of attention for its ambitious goal: digitizing everybody's snail mail. It was a nice dream; no more walking down your driveway six days a week to clear out the useless junk it contained. But less than a year later, Outbox shut down. This article explains how the United States Postal Service swiftly crushed their plan to make mail better. The founders were summoned to a meeting with the Postmaster General, who told them. 'We have a misunderstanding. You disrupt my service and we will never work with you. You mentioned making the service better for our customers; but the American citizens aren't our customers—about 400 junk mailers are our customers. Your service hurts our ability to serve those customers.' The USPS's Chief of Digital Strategy said Outbox's business model 'will never work anyway. Digital is a fad.' The USPS wouldn't work with Outbox to forward customers' mail, and that eventually destroyed the business."

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BOO FUCKING HOO! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46873925)

Cry me a river why don't you!

Incomplete (5, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 7 months ago | (#46873929)

They left out the part where the Postmaster General had SEAL Team Six round up the executive team, waterboard them and remand them to the guantanamo detention center where they could learn the error of their ways.

Re:Incomplete (-1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 7 months ago | (#46873941)

The USPS isn't a government department.

Re:Incomplete (5, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 7 months ago | (#46873971)

OH so I guess all of that DIDN'T happen.

Thanks Ralph!

Re:Incomplete (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874057)

I'm betting that it didn't happen, nor did what was in the summary happen. I'm not saying it is a complete lie, but I suspect a great deal of creative license was taken while paraphrasing.

Re:Incomplete (4, Informative)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 7 months ago | (#46874085)

The USPS is, in fact, a Government agency: [wikipedia.org]

"The United States Postal Service (USPS), also known as the Post Office and U.S. Mail, is an independent agency of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution. The USPS traces its roots to 1775 during the Second Continental Congress, where Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general. The cabinet-level Post Office Department was created in 1792 from Franklin's operation and transformed into its current form in 1971 under the Postal Reorganization Act."

Required by the US Constitution, and a cabinet-level post back in 1792. Spun off as an independent GOVERNMENT agency in 1972.

Re:Incomplete (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 7 months ago | (#46874257)

It is also one of the few agencies in the US government that is not funded with tax dollars.

Re:Incomplete (4, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about 7 months ago | (#46874339)

And yet Congress gets to set their budget and give them unrealistic unfunded mandates that no business or government agency could hope to achieve (ie funding retirement for workers not yet born).

Re:Incomplete (3, Interesting)

Predius (560344) | about 7 months ago | (#46874341)

Not entirely true. While they don't collect funds collected via taxes, they also don't PAY taxes on many things, like say property taxes for their offices, sorting facilities, etc. So they indirectly are Government funded, at the state and municipality level.

Re:Incomplete (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about 7 months ago | (#46874399)

It has only been an agency since 1971 and it does occasionally receive some minor subsidies from the US government.

Re:Incomplete (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 7 months ago | (#46874105)

You are correct, but your implication that it is not a governement operation is quite false. The USPS [wikipedia.org] is a complete Government Agency, over which the President has limited control [wikipedia.org] .

But.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874195)

But they are government sanctioned monopoly.

Re:Incomplete (1)

CanEHdian (1098955) | about 7 months ago | (#46874453)

Right, unlike the MPAA or RIAA, the USPS is not.

Re:Incomplete (2)

geekmux (1040042) | about 7 months ago | (#46874473)

The USPS isn't a government department.

Ah, no, and what the hell gave you that idea?

This entire story smelled so much like a classic mafia shakedown I'm still wiping the spaghetti sauce off my screen.

Hell, the only part that was missing was the horse's head.

Re:Incomplete (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#46874509)

It absolutely is part of the US government. Just like amtrak.

Obligatory (5, Informative)

jhstuckey (2556816) | about 7 months ago | (#46873943)

Do you like golf, Mr. Kramer?

Their business model sucked (5, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#46873951)

Frankly, the idea of a company opening my private mail for me, reading it, scanning it in, then making it available to me bugs the crap out of me.

Were these guys trying to get a contract with the NSA? Or did they just want to read my stuff themselves?

Re:Their business model sucked (4, Insightful)

n1ywb (555767) | about 7 months ago | (#46873993)

I was BEGGING for this service a few years back when I was spending extended periods at sea. I'm sure anybody who goes on extended overseas trips would love it.

Re:Their business model sucked (5, Funny)

icebike (68054) | about 7 months ago | (#46874035)

I was BEGGING for this service a few years back when I was spending extended periods at sea. I'm sure anybody who goes on extended overseas trips would love it.

Including Mr Snowden.

Re:Their business model sucked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874071)

His is already processed for him and stored in the new Utah facility. The only difference is that, in his case, he doesn't have access to the scans.

Re:Their business model sucked (5, Funny)

mschaffer (97223) | about 7 months ago | (#46874419)

Some day, he may be able to get the scans via a FOIA request.

Re:Their business model sucked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874433)

The only difference is that, in his case, he doesn't have access to the scans.

Anymore

Re:Their business model sucked (4, Insightful)

iroll (717924) | about 7 months ago | (#46874435)

Google "Earth Class Mail."

These services existed before Outbox and continue to exist now that it's gone. They just don't assume that the USPS wants to facilitate their businesses for free (or at a loss), so you don't see their CEOs being interviewed for hand-wringing articles about how bad the government is.

I have no doubt that the USPS is run by incompetents, but that doesn't mean they're the only incompetents in this story.

Re:Their business model sucked (0)

mythosaz (572040) | about 7 months ago | (#46874053)

Frankly, the idea of a company opening my private mail for me, reading it, scanning it in, then making it available...

You mean like the USPS?

Re:Their business model sucked (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874131)

Fucking moron.

Re:Their business model sucked (2)

Rich0 (548339) | about 7 months ago | (#46874147)

Frankly, the idea of a company opening my private mail for me, reading it, scanning it in, then making it available...

You mean like the USPS?

Well, to be fair the USPS only scans the outside of every single piece of mail they handle (retaining an actual photo of the mail, not just OCR'ed contents). They only scan the inside if somebody asks them to, and only for a particular address. This is far more likely to be due to feasibility than due to some kind of concern for privacy.

Re:Their business model sucked (2)

TheGavster (774657) | about 7 months ago | (#46874391)

You can specify senders whose mail is to not be opened. Basically, it's $5 a month to have someone throw your junk mail away for you.

Re:Their business model sucked (0)

freeze128 (544774) | about 7 months ago | (#46874439)

...And what would Outbox do when your Aunt Sally sent you a birthday card with a $20 bill in it?

Just leave my mail alone.

USPS should offer a subscription service (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 7 months ago | (#46873975)

Think about it -- for $n/year, USPS would filter out your junk mail for you. People would pay for this.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (4, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about 7 months ago | (#46874067)

Are you willing to pay them more than the combined members of the Direct Marketing Association, who'll crush the USPS like insects if they allow you, the product, to opt out of their service?

Direct Marketers own the USPS, lock, stock and barrel.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 7 months ago | (#46874301)

Are you willing to pay them more than the combined members of the Direct Marketing Association, who'll crush the USPS like insects if they allow you, the product, to opt out of their service?

That's a good question. As a start, it would be nice to know the number that the USPS is being paid to deliver junk mail to my house. I'm sure I could beat it for my house alone, I'm sure it comes out to cents per month, but we wouldn't know that without knowing the actual amount.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (4, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about 7 months ago | (#46874413)

In 2010 the USPS brought in $17,300 [npr.org] million dollars from standard mail, there were 117.5 [wikipedia.org] million households in 2010 which means the USPS was paid roughly $147 per household to deliver bulk mailings.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874091)

USPS should just let the delivery QoS degrade to the point where the junk mailers have to pay above-market extortion fees to serve their customers.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (5, Informative)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 7 months ago | (#46874113)

The postmaster General is right, those 400 junk mailers are paying for the entire system. That letter you send once a year for $.50 doesn't even come close to paying the billions those junk mailers pay that provides the money the USPS needs to have 100K employees and a fleet of vehicles and planes that would dwarf some governments.

Contrary to what some small government people claim, the USPS is the envy of the world. The overhead is near non-existent and the delivery network is world class in efficiency. Private companies can't come near the efficiency of the post office. The reason we have a system so efficient is that the natural monopoly was recognized and non-profit corporation beholden to government was created. It's a good thing that the post office recognizes that the customers paying the bills are the junk mailers. It's also a good thing that the USPS is overseen by government regulators (except of course congresses attempt to kill the USPS by mandating that they contribute 75 years worth of retirement in 10 years). That government regulations guarantees that it's a crime for anyone to open my mail, and that the courts have precedence putting searching the mail as equivalent to breaking into your house and reading your diary. This "service" would be a field day for the NSA because the digital records would not have the same protection that he physical envelope does.

If private run companies like UPS were doing first class mail the delivery charge for a first class letter would be several dollars.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874231)

> That letter you send once a year for $.50 doesn't even come close to paying the billions those junk mailers pay

which ignores what we pay the USPS in taxes.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (2)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 7 months ago | (#46874305)

which ignores what we pay the USPS in taxes.

Which amounts to a grand total of $0. The USPS is entirely self-funded.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1, Insightful)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 7 months ago | (#46874501)

The USPS doesn't pay taxes. That means that we are paying their taxes.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

jythie (914043) | about 7 months ago | (#46874311)

As soon as they started lamenting about the "inefficiencies" of USPS, I had trouble taking their story seriously. It is an old myth that plays to a particular audiance but does not resemble reality even a little, esp compared to public and private services across the world.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (5, Informative)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 7 months ago | (#46874317)

The USPS has not received a dime in Tax dollars while I've been alive and that's a long fucking time. That $5 billion dollar loss you heard about last year and trumpeted by the small government pinheads was in fact a fake loss created by congress that had no material affect on their operations. It was a failure to deposit $5 billion into a retirement fund for USPS employees that haven't been born yet.

Get your facts straight.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

wolrahnaes (632574) | about 7 months ago | (#46874549)

which ignores what we pay the USPS in taxes.

No it doesn't, because that number is nearly $0. Aside from minor subsidies on special costs associated with serving the disabled and overseas voters, it is $0. There is no tax money going towards the majority of USPS operations.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874573)

My understanding is that the USPS is not funded by taxes and can be self sufficient, just like it's competition, if allowed to play by the same rules.

If the USPS isn't subsidized by taxes, you have no argument and are guilty (intentional or otherwise) of the general 'bullshit fallacy'. The fact is USPS isn't funded by taxes and hasn't been since the 80's.
https://www.google.com/#q=is+the+usps+supported+by+tax+dollars

If you respond, slashdot may get another Ad Hominem, Ad Odiumother or other fallacy or it might get a logical argument. Whatever the argument, can you please cite sources for your assertions?

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (0)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 7 months ago | (#46874241)

You contradict yourself - if 400 junk mailers are paying for the entire system, then they are, in fact, the private companies that run mail in this country.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 7 months ago | (#46874367)

They don't run mail, they just pay USPS for advertising to you, just like OTA free TV and radio. Do advertisers own TV and radio stations?

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 7 months ago | (#46874287)

I send quite a few letters per year, since I don't do automatic bill pay and try to send actual checks to charities instead of a credit card, and I receive a lot more since I want bank statements to be physical instead of electronic delivery.

I know I'm not the only one as I see a lot of neighbors checking their mail and pulling out actual envelopes instead of the weekly pennysaver.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (2)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 7 months ago | (#46874377)

As soon as you are sending mail by the truckload let me know. I did a one day temp job at a local junk mailer. This local very small junk mailer sent mail several times a day with a 40' semi truck and unloaded directly into the post office in presorted containers with the zipcode on the container. The larger junk mailers send mail via full size semi's with pup's in a near constant stream, literally billions of pounds of paper every year. Even if you are spending $50 a year on stamps you aren't even in the ballpark as far as your contribution to the post office.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874511)

almost no one under 40 get bills sent by mail. It is a identity fraud nightmare

Great to have a government outlet... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 months ago | (#46874295)

That government regulations guarantees that it's a crime for anyone to open my mail

And you are so sure the postal workers have never been asked to take an hour break while steam of men in suits come in with steamers while they are gone...

Surrrreeee. That it's a government agency makes that way more likely to happen than a company like FedEx.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874355)

It's easy to have no overhead when the law makes it that way. I'm sure many businesses could do well if they didn't have to pay property, business, fuel, or vehicle taxes, parking tickets, or licensing fees.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874373)

Envy of the world? U r joking right? I'll take my countries postal service over the USPS any day. It's both more reliable, cheaper and quicker

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874561)

I call bullshit. Identify your country so we can verify it's more expensive...

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874497)

First class mail is useless to anyone under 40. USPS future is in package delivery for internet retailers.

First class mail delivery cut to 3 days a week(most junk mailers only want these days anyway) and shift to 7 day a week package delivery

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about 7 months ago | (#46874503)

The postmaster General is right, those 400 junk mailers are paying for the entire system. That letter you send once a year for $.50 doesn't even come close to paying the billions those junk mailers pay that provides the money the USPS needs to have 100K employees and a fleet of vehicles and planes that would dwarf some governments.

Yep, this. Look at this way: I can send a letter first class for what, .50cents (with forever stamps I don't remember what they cost now) clear across the country for less than the price of a candy bar. If the junk mailers effectively subsidize that...more power to them. I have a recycle bin to toss their shit into. Like spam and tv commercials there's some appeal to someone (just not to me).

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

afidel (530433) | about 7 months ago | (#46874505)

In 2010 first class mail brought in $34B, standard mail (ie junk mail) brought in $17B, not sure what 2013 numbers looked like but I know they've taken on a LOT of final delivery services for Fedex and UPS so the numbers are likely similar or perhaps even a lower percentage for bulk mail.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 7 months ago | (#46874227)

And for $n/year, the Mafia will not burn down your business.

Paying for people to not perform a "service" you don't want performed to begin with is called extortion.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 7 months ago | (#46874255)

If mail spam in particular is a problem, this [paperkarma.com] is a fairly efficient solution.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

arobatino (46791) | about 7 months ago | (#46874289)

Think about it -- for $n/year, USPS would filter out your junk mail for you. People would pay for this.

True, but the reason there's so much junk mail is that the USPS is "required" (I put it in quotes because they don't exactly need a gun to their head) to deliver it, so the junk mailers are effectively able to force it down people's throats. If people could pay to opt out, the junk mail would be much less lucrative, so the USPS would lose most of it. And then they'd lose the money for opting out, too, since most people wouldn't get enough junk mail to bother anymore.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874403)

I open *all* of my junk mail. I have noticed recently that some of these dudes are mailing cash and stamps. I open them scan for the money or stamps and toss the rest. 40 bucks so far this year for doing nothing.

Re:USPS should offer a subscription service (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 7 months ago | (#46874489)

Think about it -- for $n/year, USPS would filter out your junk mail for you. People would pay for this.

Wow. That's almost as logical as finding a random assassin and paying them not to kill you.

We already have digital mail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46873977)

It's called e-mail. What the hell did they think they were going to accomplish?

Bummer. (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 7 months ago | (#46873981)

When I first heard of Outbox (here?), I quickly submitted my email address to them to be notified when it hit my city.

I unsubscribe from nearly every mailing I can manually, as well as use the Direct Marketing Associations's Mail Preference Service and a 5-year blackout from credit card companies.

You can reach all of these from: https://www.dmachoice.org/ [dmachoice.org]

---

And I still get junk. They're all assholes.

Re:Bummer. (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#46874103)

I don't bother. There's a garbage bin between my mailbox and my house. The mail gets filtered before I get to the door and left in the garbage bin....

Re:Bummer. (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 7 months ago | (#46874127)

Manual spam filter in other words.

Re:Bummer. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#46874207)

I have a stamp that says "return to sender" for junk mail. the USPS get's to eat that.

They are not working for me, but the spammers, then screw them.

Re:Bummer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874271)

Actually, they don't Only 1st class get's the return. Any other class of mail will just get "recycled" by the USPS.

Re:Bummer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874359)

Can you use that stamp for that extra apostrophe? Thanks! Sorry, I mean: Thank's!

Re:Bummer. (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 7 months ago | (#46874209)

For me, it's a matter of having to search for my real mail (I still get some) between the loose pages of this week's coupon clipper.

Too many direct marketers sending me REFINANCE NOW! junk mail (because property records are public) that comes in the same envelope as an EOB from my insurance... They might only take a few seconds to figure out, but those seconds add up week after week after week...

Probably just as well (1)

icebike (68054) | about 7 months ago | (#46874021)

Officially Government Sanctioned Spam is still Spam.

It would have died of its own accord anyway, because the junk mailers would have figured out that it was a waste of effort and money and found ways to configure their junk mail to foil scanning. And citizens don't want people opening their mail to scan it either.

I can't imagine what there wasn't a three letter agency behind this scheme anyway.

The story is remarkably DATE Free. Without the date in Leno clip you can't tell if this was 1985 or 2013.

My biggest gripe (0)

snsh (968808) | about 7 months ago | (#46874031)

USPS is still about 15 years behind in adopting the Internet. Today in 2014 you still cannot go online and print out a stamped (or unstamped) first class envelope or address label. You still have to fill out silly ink forms to send mail certified, registered, or proof of mailing. USPS has self service kiosks in a few post offices, but not any supermarkets. It's far easier to get a zipcode from a search engine than USPS.com.

USPS needs to just buy Stamps.com for a billion dollars or whatever they're worth, and make it a free service available to the public.

Re:My biggest gripe (1)

icebike (68054) | about 7 months ago | (#46874083)

USPS is still about 15 years behind in adopting the Internet.

And Thank God they are.

If the USPS hadn't killed off this whackjob scheme, the Snowden revelations would have done it for them, because
the NSA would never be able to resist cataloging every bit of it.

Re:My biggest gripe (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 7 months ago | (#46874089)

WRONG.

USPS does have such a service. It's called click-n-ship.

https://www.usps.com/business/... [usps.com]

Re:My biggest gripe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874177)

WRONG.

Today in 2014 you still cannot go online and print out a stamped (or unstamped) first class envelope or address label.

Click-N-Ship is for priority only. Also, it's poorly named... at the very least it should be called click-click-click-create-account-click-click-some-more-etc-etc-etc-then-maybe-one-day-ship.

Re:My biggest gripe (1)

jonnythan (79727) | about 7 months ago | (#46874283)

You can't print stamps using that service. You need to actually purchase stamps, or have an account from somewhere like Stamps.com or Pitney Bowes.

the easier solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874045)

would have been to partner with 3rd party mailbox rental outfits.. not to personally 'undeliver' mail.. that idea was about the stupidest thing i've ever read.

Benjamin Franklin (1)

The Real Dr John (716876) | about 7 months ago | (#46874051)

Can now rest easy.

this is not an accurate history (1)

pkalkul (450979) | about 7 months ago | (#46874069)

I do not know anything about the Outbox startup other than what is presented in the linked article, but I do know that this is not an accurate representation of the approach of the Post Office to electronic mail. They considered a system almost exactly like this in the late 1970s. It was called E-Com, and it allowed users to send letters electronically from office to office. The letters were then printed out and delivered.

The Post Office might have its flaws, but from the 1792 Post Office Act to the present, it has actually been an important contributor to the information infrastructure of the United States. This article reads like a press release from the start-up in question.

Outbox is dead, digital mail isn't (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874095)

Just because Outbox didn't succeed at digital mail doesn't mean other companies haven't. Companies like Earth Class Mail [earthclassmail.com] have been providing digital mail services since long before Outbox was around.

Assuming this is accurate... (1)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 7 months ago | (#46874135)

I would still have a hard time getting too angry with the USPS. Not sure why.... Oh cool, my electric bill can go paperless now.

Outbox is Lying (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874139)

Earth Class Mail (ECM) has been scanning mail for nearly a decade. And ECM also has a junk mail filtering service. I used ECM up until about three years ago, when the prices got too high. Also I became tired of people calling me thinking I was part of some scam, as all customers had the same street address--14525 SW Millikan Way #NNNNN. So I would routinely get calls from victims because any search for Millikan Way turned up my name and my phone number as one of the top search results.

And ECM isn't the only business with this model.

Outbox must have done something stupid and potentially illegal. For one thing, anybody who uses a commercial mailbox has to file a form with the provider which documents your physical address, in case the G-men need to track you down. I bet Outbox balked at requiring their users have this form on file. (Of course, real scammers can just put another commercial mailbox address on their form. Although you also need to fake a form of ID, or at least lie to the DMV. In any event, it's mostly useless to stop fraud.)

Re:Outbox is Lying (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874201)

So I was almost right. Outbox couldn't get the USPS to forward everybody's mail to them. (Whereas with ECM you just change your published address.)

I'm not surprised the USPS wouldn't do this willingly, considering how much they depend on junk mail revenue. But then that's hardly related to the fact that the USPS is a government monopoly. Any provider of mail service would want to replace one source of revenue with another source of revenue, regardless of whether they were private or not.

It just sounds like sour grapes.

ECM, Outbox, etc, are neat ideas. But you'll need legislation and either tax dollars or higher service fees if you want it to be pervasive, because right now all of our mail service is heavily subsidized by junk mail vendors.

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874141)

I'm already getting 99% of my mail through emails. Like my invoices from service providers and what not.
The US truly is a backwater country when it comes to the internet...

Would never work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874143)

The only reason you ever want a snail mail, when you need a verify the senders and receivers identity. If you digitize it, it's all lost. You could have made that in photoshop.

Re:Would never work (1)

machineghost (622031) | about 7 months ago | (#46874219)

But if a 3rd party is doing that digitization, the only way it "could have [been] made ... in photoshop" is if there was a conspiracy between the sender and the mail scanner. You'd have to be pretty paranoid to be concerned about that.

Re:Would never work (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 7 months ago | (#46874239)

The only reason you ever want a snail mail, when you need a verify the senders and receivers identity. If you digitize it, it's all lost. You could have made that in photoshop.

Because nobody would ever lie on paper?

Re:Would never work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874327)

In the real world people are less likely to lie on paper than in a digital form. Lying and cheating is generally an opportunist crime, and the cost is lower online.

Just like locks are meant to keep honest people honest. You're going to get robbed more if you don't have a lock on your door, even though somebody who targeted you specifically could easily bypass any locks you have.

OTOH, to a court there's nothing special about paper versus digital. What matters it that there's a reasonable audit trail with sufficient information that could be put before a fact-finder in a court of law if there ever was an issue about authenticity. But of course, generally speaking, your average juror is going to trust a paper trail more than he might a digital trail, all things being equal.

Re:Would never work (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 7 months ago | (#46874429)

In the real world people are less likely to lie on paper than in a digital form.

But it's still possible for them to lie if they are using paper.

Re:Would never work (1)

jythie (914043) | about 7 months ago | (#46874385)

Thing is, if you lie by snail mail, it is a federal crime. By having USPS in the chain you bring in some non-trivial legal weight along with it. Commit fraud via email, yeah, it is illegal. Commit fraud via snail mail and they bring the hammer down.

This is just silly (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 7 months ago | (#46874157)

who in America, even pre-Snowden, would ever approve the gov't opening everyone's mail and scanning it in. This didn't die because of the junk mailers, this was DOA from a fundamental standpoint.

Similar service available in Canada (1)

Chubby_C (874060) | about 7 months ago | (#46874223)

Run by canada post its called e-post. Only available for certain senders but once you sign up you'll receive an email each time you receive something and then log in to view it. Of course for some of the senders you can just sign up to receive your communications by email and avoid the extra step.

You don't need it (5, Informative)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 7 months ago | (#46874229)

You don't need something like this anyway.
1) get your bills electronically, and/or set them up for automatic payments
2) use dmachoice.org and optoutprescreen.com to stop virtually all junk mail (former for 'regular' junk mail, latter for the credit card offers). Yes, they're run by the junk mail companies, but they work, and no, I don't work for them.

I DO NOT WANT "digital mail" (0)

dltaylor (7510) | about 7 months ago | (#46874357)

Printed documents have value, particularly financial, medical, and legal documents; scans of them do not.

Getting together for drinks is worth an email or text. Mortgage forms, or the medical history docs I got today should never be electronic.

Re:I DO NOT WANT "digital mail" (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 7 months ago | (#46874493)

nonsense, there are legal ways to digitally represent all the documents you mentioned. the world is moving on beyond physical documents

Re:I DO NOT WANT "digital mail" (2)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 7 months ago | (#46874535)

I'm part of a clinical study. When it started up, one of the techs at the study faxed the details of what was going on to my regular doctor. I offered to hand-carry them, as it wasn't out of my way home, but I was told that he was required to fax them. Why? Because that way he had a record from the fax machine that the documents were sent and received.

Faxes are also used quite a bit with legal documents because it's been ruled by the courts that sending a fax (and having it received) counts for meeting a deadline, as long as the hardcopy is also sent over in a timely manner. There is no such ruling for email, so it's no good for this type of thing.

PO Boxes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874375)

The fact that these 'genius' innovators missed a solution as simple as a P.O. Box or privately owned Personal Mail Box services, speaks volumes...

SSI and SSDI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46874421)

Social security and disability checks are why the USPS matters today. They have guaranteed delivery with the force of federal law guarding against interception and tampering. For many, many people, those checks are their lives. Often for good reason, whether it is paying into the system for their entire lives (SSI) or our helping those with serious issues (SSDI). And quite a few of these folks do not have bank accounts or electronic gizmos. Some barely keep their electricity running as it is.

Ask a mail carrier about the "bad" parts of town. You'll find out that the USPS mail carriers are the safest people there. No one will mess with SSI and SSDI checks. The neighborhood would turn them out in a heartbeat.

Re:SSI and SSDI (1)

OFnow (1098151) | about 7 months ago | (#46874553)

"Social security and disability checks are why the USPS matters today. They have guaranteed delivery" Maybe they do, but nothing else has guaranteed delivery. Some 1st class mail never makes it here...every month.

Re:SSI and SSDI (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 7 months ago | (#46874579)

I don't know about disability checks, but Social Security has been using direct deposit for several years now, as has the VA for paying travel expenses to vets with low incomes and/or service connected disabilities.

Call the Waaaaaaahhhhmbulance.... (4, Insightful)

beaverdownunder (1822050) | about 7 months ago | (#46874461)

Rather than continuing to bitch about how your darling child idea didn't work out, maybe you should just come up with something else and move on?

This is getting a bit old...

Very poorly written article (1)

macraig (621737) | about 7 months ago | (#46874521)

I knew of Derek Khanna, but didn't know that his skill wielding English was so deficient; if that is now his day job, he should most definitely quit. That was the most poorly written article I've seen at a journalistic Web site in many years.

I slowly realized this after buying a house (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 7 months ago | (#46874537)

Before I even moved in, every organization with foreknowledge of the sale apparently sold my information to whoever was paying. My mailbox was PACKED with junk mail in my name before I even moved in! And, it was all targeted (Home Depot, furniture stores, pest control, etc.). To this day, I'd estimate that 60-70% of what I get is junk mail. There's no way these companies can be paying the going rate I pay as a US citizen to mail letters.

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