"The postal notice itself says this is the first step to identify all senders, so this is not a matter of paranoia, this is reality. The post office is moving towards identification requirements for everyone," said Chris Hoofnagle, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Mr. Hoofnagle scoffed at the notion identification could prevent crimes such as the anthrax attacks on members of Congress and news media two years ago. "Anyone resourceful enough to obtain anthrax can get a stamp" without going through the new channels, Mr. Hoofnagle said. A Treasury Department report from the Mailing Industry Task Force also recommended that "the industry promote development of the 'intelligent' mail piece by collaborating with the Postal Service to implement standards and systems to make every mail piece - including packages - unique and trackable." "What happens if I buy stamps and you need one, is it legal for me to give it to you?" Mr. Hoofnagle said.
If this foolishness is implemented I'm sure stamp exchanges will become routine at many public and private meetings. Such exchanges could become a good business opportunity.
Ari Schwartz, associate director for the Center for Democracy and Technology, said intelligent mail can play an important role and improve the mail system. However, privacy issues must be seriously addressed, and moving forward with the rules on bulk mail could alleviate some concerns, he said. "There is a right to anonymity in the mail. If you look back in the history of this country, the mail has played an important role in free expression and political speech and anonymous mail has provided that," Mr. Schwartz said.
As others have mentioned, the Supreme Court has ruled that anonymous correspondence is supported under freedom of political speech. The USPS is a quasi-governmental organization with exclusive legal rights to transport and deliver first-class mail to our mail boxes. Exactly the kind of mail, which if anonymous could be protected speech. It seems fair to me that if the USPS wanted to foreclose on our ability to use anonymous first-class mail then they should be willing to give up the exclusivity of their first-class mail franchise, so competitors who will offer this can deliver to postal mail boxes.
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