U.S. Postal Service Could Eliminate Spam

What technology did for America's oil independence, the Postal Service could do for America's email independence.
New technologies have enabled America to be less dependent on foreign oil.

01/21/2018 - What technology did for America's oil independence, the Postal Service could do for America's email independence.

Not so long ago, the United States was heavily dependent foreign oil. However, new technology to extract oil from shale has nearly eliminated America's need to import, and cut oil prices by half.

Email Is Too Broken To Stop Spammers

Spammers spam because there is no real cost or consequence to spamming. A spammer merely opens a free email account with any one of the thousands of discount hosting companies or sends it from a home based computer over their standard Internet connection. They can send unlimited volumes of spam until their account is disabled. Then they move on to another hosting company or Internet provider.

SMTP is Part of the Problem

SMTP, the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, is a system by which computers send email, and it really is ridiculously simple. Entering a single period at the beginning of a blank line will terminate an email message because the creators of SMTP thought that would be a good way to signal the end of an email.

SMTP was ripe for abuse from the very beginning. It never should have lived beyond the early 1990s. Yet, it's still with us, sending millions of spam emails to our inboxes every day of the week. Unfortunately, the technology industry isn't interested in change.

Software developers have enhanced SMTP to help email clients identify spam and place it in a spam folder. However, those enhancements work so poorly that while everyone still receives spam in their inbox, too often valuable emails end up in their spam bin.

Private Providers Have No Solutions

One might expect Google, Yahoo, ATT, Verizon, Comcast and other major providers to solve the problem. They haven't and they don't intend to do so. Because their services are free and already cost a lot to maintain, they have no incentive to invest in improvements.

Some providers use their email service to hinder competition from small business owners. ATT, which has lost millions of emails and private information to hackers, often requires small business owners to complete a lengthy application process before they'll process email to their customers. They impose no such requirement on large businesses. In fact, ATT has a history of sending known spam simply because the sender is a brand name organization.

A Secure, Fee Based, Private System

By allowing the U.S. Postal Service to offer paid email services, within a closed system, using one of the newer, fully secure, protocols and passing laws that clearly define both spam and penalties for sending spam, we could finally have a safe, secure, spam-free system of communication.

Over the past 30 years, inflation adjusted first class postage rates have remained fairly flat.

Per Piece Email Rates

Requiring subscribers to have a valid physical postal address and charging a nominal fee per piece would ensure only legitimate users are on the system and only legitimate communications are sent.

Business owners might be happy to use such a system because it would guarantee their email arrives at a reasonable cost.

The Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer funding, is well known for controlling costs even while providing high levels of service. Over the past 30 years, inflation adjusted rates for first class mail have barely budged, through both good times and bad.

Postal Service Email Promotes Conservation

Another benefit of Postal Service email is how it promotes green practices. More businesses might choose to send advertising circulars via email, rather than paying the additional costs for standard mail. And that means less junk mail in the mailbox.

With a closed system, the Postal Service might even be able to implement various classes of email, just as they now offer Standard mail for advertising circulars, and First Class service for personal communications.

What Are We Waiting For?

It's difficult to imagine why such a service isn't already available and operating in competition against the painful free service provided by the giant tech brands. Actually, the Postal Service has tried to offer such a service, many times. In fact, the Postal Service offered the very first commercially available email service, E-Comm, way back in 1974.

So, what are we waiting for? Congressional approval. You see, the same law that eliminated taxpayer support for the Postal Service, prevents the Postal Service from offering email service. Thank you very much, George Bush and Congressional Republicans.

Until the public has had enough of low quality commercial email that they are willing to demand something better, Congress will continue to capitulate to the mightly tech lobbies and refuse to allow the Postal Service to offer email.

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