The Infamous E-mail Tax
Date Added: Oct. 21, 2002
BreakTheChain.org first saw this bit of Armchair Activism in 2000, but it originated around the winter or spring of 1999, in Canada. The original content was almost identical to the version below except that the titles and locations of the politicians involved have been changed to reflect the U.S. system. Naturally, any validity it may have once had is long gone.
Please read the following carefully if you intend to stay on-line and continue using email:
The last few months have revealed an alarming trend in the Government of the United States 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 email users out of "alternate postage fees". Bill 602P will permit the Federal Govt to charge a 5 cent surcharge on every email 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 email 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 email per day in 1998, the cost to the typical individual would be an additional 50 cents per day, or over $180 dollars 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 noninterference. If the federal government is permitted to tamper with our liberties by adding a surcharge to email, who knows where it will end. You are already paying an exorbitant price for snail mail because of bureaucratic efficiency. It currently takes up to 6 days for a letter to be delivered from New York to Buffalo. If the U.S. Postal Service is allowed to tinker with email, it will mark the end of the "free" Internet in the United States.
One congressman, Tony Schnell (r) has even suggested a "twenty to forty dollar per month surcharge on all Internet service" above and beyond the government's proposed email charges.
Note that most of the major newspapers have ignored the story, the only exception being the Washingtonian which called the idea of email surcharge "a useful concept whose time has come" (March 6th 1999 Editorial).
Don't sit by and watch your freedom erode away! Send this email to all Americans on your list and tell your friends and relatives to write to their congressman and say "No!" to Bill 602P.
Kate Turner Assistant to Richard Stepp,
URGENT!!!! Pass this along to all your email buddies. And just how would this impact on businesses, especially small businesses?
Linda K. Imle
As expected, this hoax picked up steam in late 2000 with the announcement by the U.S. Postal Service of their new strategies to compete with electronic mail. It also surged in popularity following the anthrax mailings in New York and Washington, D.C. in September and October, 2001, as the nation looked for secure alternatives to postal mail. In the Spring of 2002, a new version surfaced that ties the mythical e-mail fee to the U.S. Postal Service rate increase at the time from 34 to 37 cents.
Basically, Attorney Richard Stepp doesn't exist, nor does Congressman Schnell. A quick search on the Library of Congress database revealed that "602P is an invalid bill number." The U.S. Postal service has denied the rumor and stated emphatically that it has no desire to see such legislation.
The Washingtonian not only denies printing an editorial endorsing this bill, but they also point out that they didn't even have a March 6, 1999 issue (they are a monthly publication)! Most of the major newspapers have ignored the story because it isn't true!!!! If it were, the media would be all over this thing!
Canada and the United States are not the only countries to import this lie, either. Versions of it have been spotted in Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom - all virtually identical to this one, except the titles and organizations have been changed to reflect regional infrastructure. Break this Chain!
References: About.com, The Washingtonian, U.S. Postal Service, Library of Congress