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E-mail fees are a bad idea

If Bill 602P goes through, e-mail will be a thing of the past for many of us.

The last few months have revealed an alarming trend in the U.S. government attempting to quietly push through legislation that will affect your use of the Internet. Under proposed legislation the U.S. Postal Service will be attempting to bilk e-mail users out of alternate postage fees.Bill 602P will permit the federal government to charge a 5 cent surcharge on every e-mail delivered, by billing Internet service providers at source. The consumer would then be billed in turn by the ISP.

Washington, D.C., lawyer Richard Stepp is working without pay to prevent this legislation from becoming law.

The U.S. Postal Service is claiming that lost revenue due to the proliferation of e-mail is costing nearly $230,000,000 in revenue per year.

You may have noticed their recent ad campaign -- "There is nothing like a letter." Since the average citizen received about 10 pieces of e-mail per day in 1998, the cost to the typical individual would be an additional 50 cents per day, or over $180 per year, above and beyond their regular Internet costs.

Note that this would be money paid directly to the U.S. Postal Service for a service they do not even provide. The whole point of the Internet is democracy and non-interference. If the federal government is permitted to tamper with our liberties by adding a surcharge to e-mail, who knows where it will end. You are already paying an exorbitant price for snail mail because of bureaucratic efficiency.

It takes up to 6 days for a letter to be delivered from New York to Buffalo (and up to 5 days from Idaho Falls to Salt Lake City). If the U.S. Postal Service is allowed to tinker with e-mail, it will mark the end of the "free" Internet in the United States. One congressman, Tony Schnell. has even suggested a "twenty to forty dollar per month surcharge on all Internet service" above and beyond the government's proposed e-mail charges. Note that most of the major newspapers have ignored the story, the only exception being the Washingtonian which called the idea of e-mail surcharge "a useful concept whose time has come" (March 6, 1999, editorial.)

Mary Lou Rindlisbacher

South Jordan