In an effort to increase efficiency, cut carbon emissions, and reduce costs, Finland has begun a pilot program wherein snail-mail letters are converted into PDFs and made viewable online by their addressees, in advance or in lieu of physical delivery. So far, the effort is volunteer-only, but it has already sparked concerns in Finland about privacy and government overreach.
In the program, the volunteers will have images of all their letters viewable on a computer or phone, and then optionally physically delivered later on. The postman will still arrive twice a week to deliver the scanned letters, as well as any packages. Additionally, the postal service will filter out junk mail for the volunteers, essentially adding a spam filter to physical mail.
Itella, the state-owned company that operates Finland's postal service, has vowed that employees will not read the letters, that all sorting and opening will occur in specially secured facilities, and that employees will sign strict confidentiality agreements. 126 families and 20 businesses have already signed up for the service, which will begin on April 12th.
Itella stresses this program is only an experiment designed to discover what types of snail-mail the Finnish people feel comfortable receiving in this fashion. However, despite the small size, experimental nature, and high security of the program, some Finish citizens have already begun drawing comparisons between Itella and Communist-regime security services.
A similar service, Earth Class Mail, already operates commercially in the US, and claims to serve tens of thousands of users. Whether Itella can replicate Earth Class Mail's success remains to be seen. But given the high level of technical savvy amongst the Finnish population, as well that citizenry's more robust trust in the responsibility of their government, Itella's scanning program may very well be the future of mail.
Canada Post has an optional service called "ePost" for bills.
... And people think that wire-tapps are bad.
Promises promises .... one day a promise the next day a broken promise.
If someone has taken the time and effort to handwrite a letter (not unknown of even in this day and age) it is meant to mean something more than a computer printout .... why on earth would I want it delivered as a PDF file in this case ... it dilutes its value.
Snail mail is good for a lot of things. Invading its inherent integrity this way may well reduce the clientele.
There are far more "low hanging fruit" to engage than this.
Earth Class Mail seems quite different. They scan your envelope, and then you tell them what you want done with it.
Few thoughts on this.
This is not a new concept, it was done in WWII to send letters. It saved money and space on supply chains for needed materials. Invasion of privacy, you bet!
Most postal services are being propped up by junk mail right now. If the postal service trashes this stuff for you, then they will loose revenue.
I also agree with RAT that you would loose a personal connection and meaning behind a handwritten letter. Might as well have just sent an email instead.