In the future, all your government mail — jury duty slips, election notices, those Social Security earnings statements — may not come in the mail at all. In Australia, federal politicians are debating ditching snail mail entirely, giving all citizens a state-sponsored inbox where they would receive all government communications.
A spokesman for the federal Opposition (the minority coalition under Australia's parliamentary system) said the "electronic pigeon hole" would serve as a lifelong mailbox and storage service for communications between each citizen and the government.
Australians would likely get an account name using their names and dates of birth, hosted on the government's Australia.gov.au domain, according to ComputerWorld Australia. Much like online bank statement setups in the U.S., the account would be free to anyone who wanted it, as long as the user agreed to stop receiving paper mail.
The government could save plenty of money by reducing paper, according to Malcolm Turnbull, a spokesman for the federal Opposition coalition. He made the comments as part of a larger discussion about Internet connectivity in the country.
Australia is one of a handful of nations debating major mail changes. In Sweden and Denmark, postage stamps are being replaced by text-message codes, and in Finland, officials are taking the dramatic step of opening and digitizing all paper mail (for people who opt-in). But these programs don't address how the bureaucracy would continue to connect with the citizenry in the absence of mail carriers. Australia aims to keep those connections, and eliminate worries about fickle email users who change their addresses, by establishing a national system.
A federally hosted inbox would be problematic for poor populations or people living in rural areas without good broadband access, as ComputerWorld points out. But the government could conceivably address that by subsidizing broadband build-out and ensuring physical delivery remains an option for those people.
There are plenty of questions to be answered here, not the least of which is how to maintain privacy when all you'd need is someone's name and date of birth to access his or her mail. It's also based on the assumption that people would actively check their federal inboxes — yet another password to remember — when receiving physical mail is a much more passive activity. But it's an interesting idea, and one potentially worth considering as our own postal service struggles under a massive shortfall — the USPS stands to lose $7 billion this year. A few servers and some firewalls would conceivably be a lot less expensive.
It's not the government mail that bothers me (unless it's a Jury Duty notice ;) ) ... but all of the credit card applications I get.
I'm fine with having another email address from the government if they can guarantee that the only email I would get on there would be from them. Meaning ... no SPAM.
finally! get rid of snail mail! the ONLY thing you can't get over e-mail is a package, and even that may change, in the distant future.
why learn from your own mistakes, when you could learn from the mistakes of others?
They know that they will get 2 letters from government only occassionally and the rest will be nothing but spam.
I recall reading somewhere that a system of underground tubes would be a far more efficient and green way of delivering packages than using trucks.You would place an order online for something,and pick it up the next morning in your basement from a delivery tube,which would come into your home alongside the gas line.
yes it will be easyer to let the government read
your mail. hello George Orwell. with this set up
they can read ,search and monitor your mail all on
there server. beats opening your envelopes and
saves them money
So your 70 year old grandma and those living in the outback are going to check there e-mail??? Reality check. Good theory. Hello grandma the government welcomes you and here is your penis enhancement spam email, filling your inbox...along with please always send and receive all your emails through us so we can read them all and store them in a large data base so we can catch terrorist. Don't worry it will be fully secure and nobody will hijack your account (ie yahoo mail)...
They want to improve mail efficiency stop allowing unsolicited mail from being sent!!!!!! and filling up my mailbox!!!!!!!!!!!! they won't do that cause those companies pay the postage. I actually need to get only a few pieces of mail a month, nothing more...not my problem that doesn't support the tens of thousands of postal employees...this is not a welfare service. Slash 60% of the postal positions and stop the unsolicited mail and you would have a system that actually was in the black each year.
Two converging forces -- cyberhacking and EOL (Everything on Line). A permanent email address just seems like an awfully easy target.
Not to mention the myriad small details. How do you get a 'certified' copy sent to you? -- when YOU have to print it out.
I guess that all of the birthday cards, wedding invites, etc are now online only -- seems a rather drastic shift.
(I know that PopSci staffers will opt to use their IPads for admission, but the rest of us might not like that).
All in all, this could be a pretty complex changeover.
And what about the rather large percent of the population that has no desire or even aptitude to use a computer? This easily describes 20-25% of the people I know.