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 bill 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 Post 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 is an Assistant to Richard Stepp, Berger, Stepp and Gorman Attorneys at Law 216 Concorde Street, Vienna, VA.