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I will begin this diary with a short discussion I started in a thread that was part of a much larger discussion, which I will add a link to.  I will also include a link to the initial diary that these discussions came out of.  First, the diary was titled Elizabeth Warren: Let Post Offices Replace Payday Lenders.

My suggestion to a much longer comment thread on the topic of having the USPS offer ISP (internet service provider) service to Americans, was to have the USPS offer a secure email service that had the force of the American postal laws behind it regarding secrecy, mail fraud, and all of the other protections that the mail service has that other message delivery services do not have.  A few people agreed with me that there was some merit to the idea, and I decided to see if we can get a Daily Kos discussion to brainstorm the question.

The thread is below:

Post a Comment | 287 comments | Permalink

 I've felt for a long time that the USPS should run (17+ / 0-)

its own secure email service that offers the same level of protection to privacy and against mail fraud as a service that people pay for.  If a spammer wants to put 10 million commercial messages, maybe they have to pay a penny a mail box for the privilege.  That would put $100k in the postal bank account, and, with various classes of email, say 2 cents for First Class Email, 1.5 cents for Second Class, and 1 cent for bulk, the American public would strongly support a system with these features.  Every American would have the ability to have their own, portable forever, USPS Email Address that can be used anywhere, with the full support of the USPS and its attendant legal protections.

That would make the telecoms squawk, but so what?  The Postal Service is the only message delivery service mentioned in the US Constitution, and it should adapt to the technologies of the day, whatever day that happens to be.

Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

by Ohiodem1 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 01:14:56 PM EST

[ Parent | Reply to This ]

       I'd jump at the chance - (5+ / 0-)

      middle finger extended to the NSA!

       by Nannyberry on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 02:11:09 PM EST

       [ Parent | Reply to This ]

              Yeah! (8+ / 0-)

             Oh, man, do I LOVE the idea of making junk e-mailers pay to have
              their garbage delivered to me!  If nothing else, let's make THAT happen!

            OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new
             RIGHT!

              by mstaggerlee on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 02:18:58 PM EST

               [ Parent | Reply to This ]

                How about a Do Not Spam List with mail fraud (0+ / 0-)

                 penalties applied?  I like that.

                  Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

                  by Ohiodem1 on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 09:51:51 AM EST

                 [ Parent | Reply to This ]

                              And the library of Congress (9+ / 0-)

                                    should run a not-for-profit search engine that operates on the
                                    principle of intellectual freedom.

                                    After all, the internet only has content because users put there
                                    in the first place.  Its our information, not google's.

                                    "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

                                    by Reepicheep on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 03:46:32 PM EST

                                    [ Parent | Reply to This ]

                                    Severe Laws Regarding Mail Fraud (9+ / 0-)

                                   Holy crap, mail fraud has been a law you don't want to be
                                   charged with for many years.  Why that doesn't extend to email
                                  is a mystery to me, but if the USPS were to operate an email
                                   service, wow, massive teeth in mail fraud.

                                   A perpetual personal email address?  Anyone else thinking it
                                   might become a pretty nice electronic voting tool?  With a
                                   massive double penalty of both voter fraud and mail fraud
                                   sitting on top of it?

                                   Tampering with the mail?  Another charge I wouldn't want to
                                    have to defend myself from.

                                   The establishment of post offices is part of the constitution so I
                                   don't know where these ass-hat absolutists come off thinking
                                    they can privatize it.

                                    by JohnnySacks on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 07:35:44 PM EST

                                    [ Parent | Reply to This ]

                                        Email scams coming through a USPS email system (4+ / 0-)

                                         could get the full federal law mail fraud statutes coming
                                          down on the scammers.  What's not to like about that?

                                          We should get someone in Congress to propose this
                                          system.  How about Senators Warren, Sherrod Brown, and
                                          Nancy Pelosi on the House side?

                                                Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

                                             by Ohiodem1 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 09:19:38 PM EST

                                           [ Parent | Reply to This ]

                                                   And viruses. Send a virus, go to federal prison.
                                                   (0+ / 0-)

                                                   There's a lot to like in such a system.

                                                   Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no
                                                   ears.

                                               by Ohiodem1 on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 05:32:26 PM EST

Note:  Redacted redundant elements like signature lines and DK formatting for brevity.  the indented formatting did not come over at all when I copied it, and I did the best I could to see the thread.  The actual thread is here, and the much longer parent thread is here.

Below the separator I will share why  I think a United States Postal Service email system would be a good idea, and I invite others who visit to put their two cents in  as well.

A few good reasons to implement a USPS email system come immediately to mind and I will bullet list them below:

1.  The USPS system has been losing mail volume and revenue for years to competitors such as the private email systems and package delivery systems such as UPS, FedEx and many local message delivery services which are available in every city.  Messages lost to competitors leads to lost revenue, and partially drives the financial crisis of the USPS.

2.  The professional courier services like UPS and FedEx are well-run and packages and letters shipped by these carriers are safe and secure, with long-established procedures to protect the contents.

     2.a  The private email environment is the wild west with unscrupulous operators from around the world doing everything in their power to send fraudulent content, junk, internet viruses, bad code, phishing messages to steal your money and identity, and many other ways to waste your time, money, resources and in general make your life less pleasurable, to say the least.

     2.b  A USPS email system would be beset with some of the same problems, but since it would be a fully pay to play system, in that if you send something over the system, there is an agreed upon price for access to the system, and it must be paid prior to putting messages over its channels.

     2.c  A USPS system would have rules (laws and regulations, actually) that force those who place content on its system to not put the kind of content described in 2.a above, or face serious legal consequences, up to and including massive fines and jail time, with perhaps a loss of future privileges to access the system.

      2.d  A USPS system would have the resources to pass all traffic entering the system through its own firewall that would have the ability to reject bad code before it ever gets to the delivery side of the system.  A system such as this would have the ability to immediately determine the source and lead to a rapid and complete shutdown of the offending code, with harsh legal consequences for the miscreant(s).  Some distinction between a grandma inadvertently sending something along would need to be made, but certainly laws covering criminal intent should be able to sort that out.

3.    Due to some crazy lawmaking, primarily a system that has required the USPS to fund pensions 75 years out, including pensions for people who have not been born yet, let alone, that they have not been hired to jobs yet, the USPS has been running at large deficits over what the revenue stream can bring in.  It is expected that this will resolve itself soon, but to put it mildly, the USPS is in a financial crisis, brought on by competition for billions of pieces of mail annually, and by various package services that are not USPS.  The package services are skimming the high dollar, high profit portion of the business off, leaving for the most part, the low revenue, low profit part of the mailing dollar, which serves to deepen the deficits as more and more technology must be purchased to move this high volume mail at lower and lower cost.

4.  A USPS email system, with the ability to offer its customers (all of us and any business that cares to participate in such as system), a safe, legally protected against privacy intrusion equal to the protection afforded by the traditional US Mail, with purchased access to the system, would find many customers willing to pay a small price for that security.  Given that this would be an attractive and secure means to send messages, money for payments, reduced exposure to internet malware and the like, this would represent, after the initial costs of implementation, a continuing and growing revenue stream to the USPS which, when it becomes profitable, likely after a year or two, could be used to support the surface mail system and to hold down future needs for postage stamp increases.

5.    Since the birth of the American Republic, the United States Postal Service has innovated, changed with the times, adapted technology, (think Pony Express, Mail by Rail, Air Mail, Express Mail, Package Services), and since more new technology has been developed, we as a nation can't simply say that the postal system has hit the end of the road, that the ability for near-instant messaging which is enjoyed all over the world, is going to be precluded to our nation's people because of arbitrary laws.  If the laws are obsolete, it is time to change them, and allow all of our people the security and confidence that we continue to have the best communication technologies available for all of our citizens and businesses.

I am absolutely sure that there are many other good reasons for the USPS to establish an email service, which could, at least initially, operate over existing internet trunks on a lease basis, but could, over time expand to a RFD (Rural Free Delivery) mail service to lightly populated areas that the private internet trunk companies do not want to or can't service profitably.

In the thread posted above, Kossack, JohnnySacks came up with this idea:

A perpetual personal email address?  Anyone else thinking it might become a pretty nice electronic voting tool?  With a massive double penalty of both voter fraud and mail fraud sitting on top of it?
 Emphasis mine.

I am absolutely certain that the power of a Kossack collective brainstorm could push this and many other progressive ideas, develop them into positive action plans that could improve American lives, improve the economic health of our constitutionally demanded postal system, have it pay for itself, and, through competition, force the private email systems to clean up their acts by taking decisive action to remove the bad actors and bad code from their systems.  Competition is good, no matter where it comes from.  This is the market working, and the Republicans should be all for that, but as we know, they will not be because, well, they only think that all internet profits should go to their political funders.

Please share your ideas below, and see if we can come up with a USPS email system that can put our postal system back into black ink.  That's what Congress intended when they restructured the USPS back in the 1970's or 1980's.  Let's help them get there, with a program that progressive congress members can introduce and pass.

Originally posted to Ohiodem1 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:03 PM PST.

Also republished by Central Ohio Kossacks.

Poll

Should we have a safe, secure, with privacy protections USPS email program?

80%21 votes
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15%4 votes
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| 26 votes | Vote | Results

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