You may have received an email about how the US Postal Service is trying to push through a bill that would allow them to charge 5 cents per email. I can understand why people would think that it’s true. The Postal Service had nothing to do with the email being sent and they aren’t going to give you anything for the 5 cents. Sure sounds like a government agency.
The email is a hoax. What’s amazing to me is that it started in 1999 and is still making its way around the Internet. If you haven’t seen the email, you can see an example of the email and more information about it on the Urban Legends Reference Page (http://www.snopes.com/business/taxes/bill602p.asp).
I wouldn’t be surprised by the Postal Service wanting to do something like this, which is one of the reasons this email has been mistaken by so many people as being real. The U.S. Postal Service currently has an electronic postmark available to businesses who want to use it. You send your email through the Postal Services servers and they put a postmark on it for a price. It works similar to snail mail – you send email to their server and it may or may not make it to your recipient. USPS website (http://www.usps.com).
If you want to know about a bill before the Senate or Congress, go to the source. You can check on any bill before Congress or the Senate at Thomas – The US Congress on the Internet (http://thomas.loc.gov).
If the Postal Service did put a 5 cent tax on email, it wouldn’t be the end of the Internet. There are a number of ways to communicate without using email.
Prior to the Internet groups used Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) to communicate and trade files by dialing into a central computer and establishing a connection over a phone line. Yahoo Groups and Topica Groups are basically doing the same thing now, but over the Internet. These BBS systems allow people to trade messages without the use of email.
Something I’m looking into for my ezine is Really Simple Syndicator (RSS). The idea behind this is to post headlines on my website and a program running on your computer would read these when they’re available. No email needed. With the problems of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) blocking email, even from trusted sources, in the future it may be a necessity for ezine publishers to continue to publish.
I know it’s old fashioned, but there’s always the option of using the Fax and Phone to communicate.
Finally there’s the possibility of a private Internet that bypasses government involvement altogether. Most of you that work for a company of any size are using an intranet – a company-wide Internet that is only accessible to people who work for your company. An extranet is an intranet that allows access from people outside the company. By connecting the extranets, it would be possible to create a private Internet.