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The Internet

Snail Mail As E-Mail 309

Posted by timothy
from the one-remove dept.
techcon writes "An Australian startup Planetwide has launched an interesting product called Scan Me. The idea is simple, you redirect your snail mail to them and they scan your physical mail and email it all to you as a text searchable PDF. Targeted at the world wide traveller, it also looks like a good way to help prevent identity theft and getting nasty white powder in the mail."
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Snail Mail As E-Mail

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  • by SirCrashALot (614498) <[moc.iksnpmoc] [ta] [nosaj]> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:44AM (#7101385)
    How would this stop identity theft. Unless you use TLS/SSL email is less secure than snail mail -- its not traveling across bare network wires.
    • by EvanED (569694)
      It would prevent people from rooting through your trash however to find bills, bank statements, etc. since there would be essentially no way to find *your* mail in there.
      • by bigsteve@dstc (140392) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:29AM (#7101575)
        If you are really worried about people reading your discarded mail, you would do better getting a paper shredder.

        A decent shredder with two sets of blades will reduce your bills to the size of punched card chads. For extra points, mix it with vegetable scraps and put it into your compost bin. Or reduce it to paper pulp by mixing with water, and boiling it for a few minutes :-).

        • by DuSTman31 (578936) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @03:56AM (#7101818)

          Or even just buy a hamster.

          Really, I'm always amazed how fast hamsters and the like can chew through a stack of papers. Not to mention, they're also cheaper than an actual shredder. Cute too.

          • "Or even just buy a hamster. I'm always amazed how fast hamsters and the like can chew through a stack of papers."

            When a paper-shredder escapes, it doesn't chew through everything soft in your entire house...
            • When a paper-shredder escapes, it doesn't chew through everything soft in your entire house...

              No, of course not. It sneaks up on you while you're asleep, looking for warm blood... That sounds like a Stephen King plot. The shredder is loose. Is it in the closet? Is it in the bathroom? Oh no! RUN! RUN!

              Title: Shredder Moon

        • by Viceice (462967) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @05:17AM (#7102049)
          Don't stop there. Put bleech in the pulp then set the pulp in wire mesh squares and leave it out to dry and you'll have good home made recycled paper.

          Honest

        • For extra points, mix it with vegetable scraps and put it into your compost bin. Or reduce it to paper pulp by mixing with water, and boiling it for a few minutes :-).

          What I usually do is throw the confetti away in several different waste baskets. If you're really paranoid, you can bring half of it to work and throw it away there, too.
    • by waitigetit (691345) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:52AM (#7101436)
      My thoughts exactly. This company is asking for a whole lot of attention from black-hat crackers. Instead of one bank statement, they can get thousands.

      Also, reading it in some internet cafe in Beijing will probably leave it in the temp directory. I really don't think this is a good idea.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Exactly - it introduces another layer of complexity, another thing that can go wrong. And I'd be even more worried about the company doing the scanning than the security of email.

      A close-to minimum-wage labor-intensive job opening your mail and scanning it. What could possibly go wrong?
      • by oobar (600154)
        Interesting point. It's a good thing that regular snail mail delivery doesn't expose your mail to hundreds or thousands of people with low paid labor-intensive jobs. Oh wait, it does.

        Sorry, I agree about the electronic issues (i.e. email not being secure) but your snail mail passes through MANY hands and has far more opportunities to be physically stolen or opened. It even sits right there out in the open in your mailbox for several hours.

        • by BlackHawk-666 (560896) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @04:37AM (#7101954) Homepage
          I'm a WebFlix subscriber and I know of at least three discs that have been stolen on the way to me in the last six months. Worse still, my mail has been stolen from downstairs several times and used for identity theft. Any loser can press a buzzer, walk into your lobby and grab the mail but it takes much more skill to hack a decently secured server.

          I know the guys/girls who are doing this and he's a maverick on the security front so I'd trust his servers any day over snail mail.

          The other services are bloody handy for travellers too. They can keep scans of your travel documents available should the worst happen. That's gotta be worth the price of admission.

          • That's gotta be worth the price of admission.

            Which is:
            what it costs [planetwide.net] -- Monthly fee: AU$26.95, plus postage etc

            Nothing for a business, but significant on a personal basis.

          • by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nokrog]> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @07:01AM (#7102327)
            Yes but do you have proof about your discs getting stolen in the mail? Probably not. Your mail getting stolen from your building, well, that's a different story. First off, tampering and stealing mail is punishable by law. Intercepting e-mail probably is too, but it's MUCH more likely to happen without you knowing then your mail getting swiped.

            My mail is curb delivered, yet I feel more comfortable getting stuff there then I do having this scan deal done. Sure there's a possibility of it getting picked up out of the box, but we usually have someone home and as soon as it gets there, my wife gets it. Never had a problem yet with it getting swiped but the first time I did I can put a mail box in that will let the mail man in and keep everyone else out. They have mailboxes that let the mail man open it once and then when he closes it, it locks. THere are also ways to work with your local post office on securing youe mail. You can have a lock on it if you can manage to set it up with your post master. In any case, I don't feel comfortable letting some mailroom dude scan my mail because he has to open it first. I don't care if the POPE is running the company, I still don't trust it.

            As far as scanned travel documents go, I can set that up myself and there are almost always computers near locations you may need these papers.

    • by Charbal (677787) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:04AM (#7101486)
      I'm also not seeing how this could stop identity theft. If you use this program, aren't you putting your mail in front of the eyeballs of the person that's scanning them?
    • Now why would a dumb comment like this be considered insightful. Of course the service is available across SSL. Did you even check or were you too busy gunning for first post?
    • Even if you used some secure method to get your email, there's still the fact that someone at PlanetWide has to open up your mail and scan it. I just don't see any way that could be beneficial in terms of identity theft.
  • by Nugget (7382) * <nugget@distributed.net> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:44AM (#7101388) Homepage
    I have been using a similar service from PayTrust [paytrust.com] for about a year now. Their focus is on bills, which is really the only mail I receive that I want to ensure I handle in a timely manner. I travel quite a bit for work and find it invaluable to be able to receive and pay my bills while on the road.

    When a new bill arrives, I get an email and I can view the scan of the bill online through the paytrust website. I can pay the bill automatically, if I choose, by establishing per-payee rules (always pay bill [foo] as long as it is under [y] dollars) and that sort of thing.

    At the end of the year they send me a CD-ROM that contains all that year's bills and payments for my archives, allowing me to store everything in a much more space efficient way than I'd have with paper files.

    It's a great service, although I don't know that I would find much benefit if they started handling all my mail and not just my bills. Mail I get is either bills, junk, or physical things which I wouldn't want in scanned form.

    • by Pretor (2506) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @03:19AM (#7101729)
      The banks in Norway has been doing this for year already. With no or low cost, and no paper; the bills are electronic. Combinded with their really good Internet banking services I no longer go to the bank, have to check any of the regular bills and so on. And because of almost 100% "visa" card coverage I don't use cash any longer. I can even buy the bus ticket using a credit or debit card.

      I wonder why people in other countries has to still use checks, bills and etc. I haven't seen a checkbook in Norway for about 10-15 years.

      My sister lives in San Francisco, and boy do the US need to get into the modern age when it comes to banking and payment.
      • by stomv (80392) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @08:15AM (#7102749) Homepage
        Why use a checkbook? float.

        If you're a small business, a few days of float can make a big difference. You know that you'll have $foo days (3 = $foo = 7) between when you put that check in the mail or a suppliers hands and when it clears. This allows you to "pay" your bill, knowing you won't get the cash until tomorrow or the day after. You're getting 0% interest short term loans with virtually no hassle.

        Small businesses like checkbooks. It allows them to pay their bills "late". Many a small business need this float to stay above boards, if only from time to time.

      • "The banks in Norway has been doing this for year already. With no or low cost, and no paper; the bills are electronic."

        I get an electronic bill from most of the companies I do business with, but they also mail me a paper bill.

        We have online bill paying, you know. And online banking. We've had this for years now. Few people still use checks (replaced by debit and credit cards) but they can still be extremely convenient when you want to pay someone who doesn't have a debit card machine (or don't want to pa
  • Privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flibble-san (700028) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:48AM (#7101406)
    I don't like the idea of someone reading my personal snail mail. I'm sure they get a laugh out of finding out "Mr Jones" subscribes to Busty Babes monthly etc.
  • E-Bills. . . (Score:4, Insightful)

    by villain170 (664238) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:48AM (#7101408) Homepage
    Don't most services that require bills offer some type of electronic payments? Wouldn't scanning your bills just be more work than going to their website and paying it that way?
    • But then you end up having to travel with a dozen logins and passwords for a dozen various merchant websites which all work and behave differently. It's much more of a pain in the ass than you'd think, especially if you find yourself on dialup sometimes.

      With a bill presentment service you can pay everything from a single site using a single consistent interface and login. I've been using PayTrust [paytrust.com] for about a year now and I couldn't live without it.

      • I think I'm dealing with it fairly well. Not trying to be a jerk, but I seriously never thought of it as that much of a problem. Different strokes for different folks I guess. :)
        • Well, relying on the merchant still excludes all the smaller bills that you probably have to pay. My water bill is a little local company with no website, for instance. Plus the benefit to recordkeeping is tangible. The service runs about ten bucks a month, which I find reasonable.

          Naturally it all depends on how many bills you get and how often you travel, I suppose.
      • In the UK this works great:

        I just have my bank create a bill payment option for each of my credit cards, my electricity bill and also for settling debts with my roommates - then on *their* banking application i just click bill payment and choose the amount.

        Of course you can get one better with direct debit whereby i authorize my cellphone and satelite providers just to take their funds straight from my account.

        Unlike my (limited) experience in the USA, this actually works out cheaper. I get a GBP2 discou
      • Re:E-Bills. . . (Score:3, Interesting)

        by proj_2501 (78149)
        Actually, Citibank has (had?) a system for storing all of your various logins and viewing all of your accounts on one page. The URL is myciti.com
  • Hmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BJH (11355) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:50AM (#7101417)
    Doesn't sound so great to me. A lot of things that come in the mail are sent that way *because* they have to reach you physically - a new credit card, etc.
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Funny)

      by PhlegmMaster (596165)
      Well, with the advances in fraudulent printing technology, the scan should be all you need to recieve your new card.
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by patriceCH (321022)
      Don't know if you read the page. They also batch-forward you the physical mail.

      So you get the mail immediately wherever you are and have Internet access but also get the physical stuff a few days later if you really want it.

      At least that's how I understand the product site.
    • If you finished reading the site you would have found out that they will bag the mail and send it on to whatever address you request. This is important for documents that require signing and is a prime reason to use the service.
  • The Belgian Official Mail services were planning to do the opposite. Printing emails and delivering it to for ex. elderly people. That way evrybody has email, even if you do not have internet available.
    • ex elderly people

      Aren't they called "dead" people?
      Why would a corpse be interested in receiving email? or snail mail for that matter?
    • Wow, I hope they have good spam filters!

      --jeff++
    • This kind of services often does not make it because of the payment problem. You want the sender to pay for the handling (just as with regular mail), because if the receiver pays they will have no protection against spam, abuse, etc.
      But there is no sender-pays infrastructure in place in the e-mail system.
      Once that has been built, it would not only be possible to implement this kind of service, but it would also be the solution for the spam problem.
      Of course, the sender would get some information about the
  • you mean ill actually have to print out the pizza hut coupons before using them, pfft never mind then
  • Security? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lackaff (247537)
    Interesting concept, but even discounting the obvious security and privacy concerns, what types of correspondance would this be useful for?

    Aside from a few (not yet online) bills, the only physical correspondence I receive are things I value for their very physicality -- personal letters, packages, magazines.

    I also get junk mail. But as it is seldom addressed specifically to me, I wouldn't think this service would have much of an impact on that... Automated junk mail to spam converter, anyone?
  • UK did it first (Score:3, Informative)

    by skinfitz (564041) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:53AM (#7101438) Journal
    UK Royal Mail has offered this as a service for some years now.
    • Yeah? Where do they offer this service? I have checked their site, but cant find a mention of it anywhere... I would love this as a service, as I am always far too lazy to open envelopes.

      I dont know about you but I always leave for work before the post arrives... it would be cool to get a scan of them in the email while i am at the office.
  • by achurch (201270) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:53AM (#7101439) Homepage

    The summary doesn't mention it, but not only do they scan everything you get, they forward it to you once you're somewhere you can receive it, so you still have the paper originals. And for those who are paranoid about having confidential documents sent via E-mail, they let you cut the scanning step out and just treat it as an ordinary forwarding address.

    It doesn't say anything about whether they're offering this to people outside of Australia, but it's certainly interesting for those of us who move frequently. I wonder if this will start a "permanent postal address hosting" service genre like Hotmail did with E-mail.

    • by Servo (9177)
      I wonder if this will start a "permanent postal address hosting" service genre like Hotmail did with E-mail.

      You mean, like a PO Box? They have been providing that sort of service for a long time. My friend has had the same mailbox rental for 3 years, all the while he's lived in 4 different places.
      • That's absolutely useless if you are planning on spending 6 months overseas. The service is targetted at travellers who don't know where they will be at any given time. It's perfect for Australians/NZ/South Africans who are all massive travllers. It's not so great for those pizza guzzling shut-ins who read SlashDot.
  • by daveo0331 (469843) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:57AM (#7101452) Homepage Journal
    This service [remailemail.com] lets you send an email, and have it converted to a snail mail letter and sent to someone. So if you combined the two services, you could send an email which would be converted to snail mail, then the recipient could convert the snail mail to an email that they could read from any computer in the world.

    Oh wait...
    • Or if you really want to have some fun call up the voice TDD/TTY operator and ask her to dial the data TDD/TTY operator and ask her to ask him to dial your friend. Or do it the other way around.

      Its a service for deaf people. They use 1200/2400 baud terminals to connect to a special data operator. From there they instruct the operator what number they would like to call and the operator serves as a proxy for communication between deaf and hearing people. The system works both ways so you can call the oper

  • by aardwolf204 (630780) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:58AM (#7101456)
    Oh yeah, cant wait to get my tax return check in PDF. Try explaining that one to the bank teller

    Or better yet how about my ATM/Credit card?

    Do you take plastic?
    VISA, MasterCard, Discover and Amex
    Great -- Hands over printed card

    Awkward Pause (tm)

    Yeah, I had to print it since it came in my email...
    ...Honest!
    • Read the article. You get notified by email for stuff that's not scannable, plus all the originals are forwarded to your address when you specify.

      Or you could just give the bank your *real* address.
    • In 1996 when I had to travel in order to take Oracle7 classes, my company's owner would send me packing in my own car with gas and food money only. When I would arrive at the hotel (having driven from Louisville KY to say, *Framingham MA* (a hellacious drive of 20 hours) I would call him at the office (often late at night) and he would fax an image of his credit card straight to the hotel desk: blown up to 8.5"x11" size. They always accepted it.
  • Are you mad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CGP314 (672613) <CGP AT ColinGregoryPalmer DOT net> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:58AM (#7101458) Homepage
    Targeted at the worldwide traveler, it also looks like a good way to help prevent identity theft

    Are you mad? You mean having someone else read your mail and then send it in a searchable format over the Internet is a good way to prevent identity theft? Is today opposite day?
  • by rf0 (159958) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @01:59AM (#7101460) Homepage
    I don't want them forwarding me a scan of my monthly Playboy. Hmm on second thoughts :)

    Rus
  • How would this work? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:01AM (#7101474) Homepage Journal
    Hrm, it seems to me that such a system would only work for 'normal/average' snail mails. Letters, etc. I wouldn't want stuff like bank PIN codes, important work information, etc going there. Or mails where they actually provide you with something physically useful in the letter, such as a return envelope.
  • by PoisonousPhat (673225) <foblich.netscape@net> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:05AM (#7101492)
    I'm sure there are many (especially here!) that celebrate the movement away from physical communications. Sure, it saves paper, it's faster (especially when compared to the slightly derogatory "snail mail", it's portable, etc. But let me wax a little sentimental here...

    There's just a little something that you get from actual mail, especially hand-written mail. True, it's terribly archaic, but when you're far, far away, a letter is one of the nicest things to receive someone willing to spend a buck and some time. Maybe it's just the amount of time invested in handwriting, or the lack thereof when typing an email, but the physical presence of personal mail is something people should not, in my opinion, be so eager to discard.

    That being said, business mail, provided it is sent via secure trasnmissions, seems perfectly suited for movement towards digitalization. The businesses themselves, though, should take more initiative to move themselves away from the massive and expensive paper usages and try billing electronically. I can only imagine the vast amounts of paper used by banks every month for high-speed printed glossy credit card applications.

    • This is still physical communication. They scan your mail, you get it in your e-mail, and they forward the mail to you. So if you're on a trip you can still read your regular mail, and when you get home, there's the mail you read on your trip! In a nice sealed envelope. And no, this is in no way faster than snail mail or regular e-mail (they have to receive your mail, scan it and e-mail it to you
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:12AM (#7101522) Homepage
    From the article:
    • It's worth noting, perhaps, that in the early days of the Internet, it was proposed that the U. S. Post Office manage e-mail. Electronic messages would come to your local post office and then be delivered to you along with the regular mail. The proposal was not considered for very long.
    No, not only was it considered, it was actually implemented and deployed. It was called E-COM [stampsjoann.net], and it operated from 1982 to 1985.

    And it was really dumb.

    The USPS put in a system with a mainframe computer and "high-speed" printers in major regional post offices. Mailers could submit mail jobs as IBM remote job entry jobs over dedicated SNA links. The interface was so one-way that error messages came back as paper mail a day or two later.

    E-COM was for first class mail, sent in bulk. You had to send at least 200 letters to a single regional post office in a day, so it was useless for general business mail. It cost as much as first class mail, so it was useless for advertising. Mailers couldn't have a return envelope included, so it was useless for bills. Western Union did establish an extra-cost consolidation and routing service, so you sent your mail to them and they routed the messages and batched up jobs for the USPS. But few people signed up.

  • by kfg (145172) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:13AM (#7101525)
    an AOL disk looks like.

    KFG
  • Oh dear (Score:4, Funny)

    by cca93014 (466820) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:19AM (#7101547) Homepage
    it also looks like a good way to help prevent identity theft and getting nasty white powder in the mail.

    Some people I know would be more than happy receiving white powder in the mail.

  • by spook brat (300775) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:25AM (#7101562)
    Wow. In the United States there are federal laws protecting both the content and *addresses* for all mail sent through the US Postal Service. If Big Brother wants to watch you there are oversight requirements (ie. the watcher must be watched) for the simple act of scanning the addresses on an envleope. The requirements are more stringent if BB wants to actually open your letter and read its contents. I don't remember off hand at what point it takes a Judge to sign off on it, I'd have to look it up.

    If you're using this "Scan Me" service, however, they can intercept your mail once it leaves US Postal Service channels with much lower levels of scrutiny - they'd just need to walk up and ask the nice people at Planetwide to do their civic duty. In fact, if Carnivore is still running (and I'm paranoid enough to believe it might be) then they wouldn't need to contact the Planetwide staff at all. The Feds could just go to Planetwide's ISP and monitor the traffic, reading the information unencrypted as it flies by on the 'Net.

    The ACLU can't protect your civil liberties if you are asking third parties to copy all of your private correspondence into the electronic equivalent of postcards. No, scratch that, postcards are still covered by the same Federal laws as normal (sealed) mail. This is copying to postacrds and re-routing through a network of untrusted private couriers. =[
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:38AM (#7101604)
    it also looks like a good way to ....

    Yea, like this is really going to work. And how much is it going to cost me to have them forward each rebate check I get, not to mention what it cost for them to scan it in the first place? Think spam was expensive before? Wait until you pay for scanning all the junk mail that you get in snail mail, or all the crap packed in with your bills. Say goodbye to ever getting a magazine subscription. No free samples in the mail any more, and no cookies from Mom at Christmas time. And I'm paying for this why? Because I fear identity theft? So that then they can e-mail my private mail to me as clear text? So that an unknown number of people at that company I know nothing about all see all of my mail?

    Face it, the always-on-the-go world traveler who just might (but I think it unlikely) get anything out of this has other means to deal with it: a personal assistant, express shipments that can catch up to the next hotel he will be at, faxes for some documents, he doesn't need an outside company poking through his business. The average smuck (like most of us) wants that mail, and knows that some of it needs to be dealt with on a timely basis (If someone sends me tickets, for example, I want them before the event, not a week after), and that some of it will get "lost" if an outside company is opening it and going through it.

    Bad idea. Oh, also, the company will be out of business in six months.

  • by tetro (545711)
    This is a stupid idea. You can't guarantee that the workers for the company will not try to steal your identity and use your information. Like what other people have mentioned, your info now has the ability to be stolen in huge numbers now. People who throw their bills and important info w/o shredding them thoroughly just get what they deserve.
  • by geekwench (644364) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @02:59AM (#7101664)
    My mom could finally send me a completely fat-free chocolate bunny for Easter! ;)
  • by aaaurgh (455697) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @03:21AM (#7101731)
    Sounds dumb. In the U.K., nearly everyone has a letterbox (mail slot) in the front door (or similar place) - once the mail is delivered it's as secure as anything else in the house. Here in Oz, we have the (IMHO) lazier mail box by the road system. My solution to identity theft - a bloody great brick mailbox with a padlock on its door. It might not stop the determined thief (what would?) but I'd have a pretty big clue if the thing is broken into.

    Besides which, the scan process still has to send to the originals to you somewhere - if that place is secure why not send the stuff there in the first place. When I'm overseas I far prefer to have the relatives open anything questionable/official and advise me/handle it themselves.

    • In the UK, and especially in London, many of us live in flats that have a shared mailslot, and that is how much of my mail was stolen and used to commit credit card fraud - along with 4 of my neighboors. You may be safe enough in a private house, but not if you share a front door.
  • by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @03:41AM (#7101777) Journal
    5) Columbia House CD of the Month Club selection
    4) Beer of the Month Club selection
    3) Oh...look - shiny!
    2) Cookies? What cookies?
    1) Congratulations! You're the Publisher's Clearinghouse winner!
  • When I first read the subject line I thought it was going to be related to RFC 1149 [ietf.org] "A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers", which can be used to send your email using an archaic form of postal service (although not really snail mail I guess).
  • Or you could just buy Abby FineReader and scan your mails yourself.

    What would do it for me is if the scanner companies brought out cheap, multi-sheet feeder scanners.
    • Which is kind of hard to do if you happen to be on the other side of the world... Redirecting your mail just to get it scanned is kind of pointless. Redirecting your mail to get it made available to you independent of your physical location is not.
  • Ok let me see, some dude who hasn't been vetted gets to open my mail and stick in a scanner.

    Hmm I wonder how much it would take for me to bribe the people there to get personal info from the documents, couple of hundred AUS$ a month??

    Small digital camera, or pencil and paper, or perhaps one of those spectacle camera's I keep getted spammed about is all it will take.

    I wonder sort of security precautions these people take, you are after all giving them quite a level of trust with your presonal info.
  • This really is one of my pet peeves! This is a great idea with one exception: the companies who are paper mailing me need to remove their collective heads from their collective arses and E-Mail me!

    This is one area where the US is behind, far behind.

    The concept of Snail Mail bills and account info is painfully outdated. I'm sure some crypto-geek expert could come up with a way that these folks could just E-mail me my data and be safe about it!

  • by reallocate (142797) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @05:24AM (#7102065)
    What security? If they scan my mail, they have to open it. If they open it, they can read it. Why should I trust these folks?

    And what about all those times when the recipient really needs hardcopy, not email.

    Besides, if I'm in, say, the UK, how long is it going to take for my mail to get to Australia?
    • Read their site - if you need a hardcopy, you ask them to forward it to whatever address you're currently at. They store all the mail for you until you tell them what to do with it.

      And yeah, if you're in the UK obviously you'd be stupid to redirect all your mail to Australia, which is why they specifically say that their service is only available for Australia...

      As for security, of course they can read it. If they do, and do something with the information, they would quickly go out of business - wait a

  • As a service, New Zealand Post [nzpost.co.nz], the major National Postal service will scan all your mail, collate and archive the Paper and deliver only the electronic version (PDF, TIFF) to you by email or CD every day. They can intercept mail that meets specific criteria (Forms, etc).

    Less paper actually makes it to your office

  • by inblosam (581789) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @05:58AM (#7102138) Homepage
    Could this be a way for europeans to get US credit cards (if a service was used in the US like this Australian one)? I know a lot of mac users wish they had a US Credit card to use iTunes, among other things. Also, the USPS seems to be hurting due to electronic mail. What if they offered a service like this for a premium. They surely would have some takers. And they would just need to buy some big automated scanners and a bit of online infrastructure. Sounds like they would be the best candidates for the job seeming they are the hub. Reduce ID theft en route that way.
  • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda@etoyo c . com> on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @08:11AM (#7102716) Homepage Journal
    Back in WWII the Allies used a system call Victory Mail, or V-MAIL, [si.edu]. You would write your message on a postcard that was microfilmed, shipped to the destination, and printed out.

    They could pack hundreds of times more V-mail in a container than standard post. When just about every ship crossing the sea was needed for the war effort, this was a Good Thing.

  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @09:08AM (#7103117) Homepage

    Instead of emailing the scanned PDF, they should send you notification that a new document is available via email, and make you sign in to their server using https (or maybe require a client-side certificate) to retrieve it. Problem solved.

  • by jared_hanson (514797) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @10:39AM (#7103836) Homepage Journal
    I've been looking for a way to outsource my anthrax problem. Now I've found it!
  • by hal9000 (80652) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @11:28AM (#7104346) Homepage
    "it also looks like a good way to help prevent identity theft and getting nasty white powder in the mail."

    Are we really so blinded by fear in this country that Joe American is afraid he'll be targeted with an envelope of anthrax? Jeez!
  • by mrv (20506) on Wednesday October 01, 2003 @12:29PM (#7105041) Homepage
    V-Mail

    In order to conserve cargo space/weight, England
    and the US military used "V-Mail" for letter
    communication between soldiers and their families
    during World War II.
    There was a specified V-Mail form that letters
    were to be written on. The form would get copied
    onto microfilm, and it was the microfilm that was
    sent overseas (not the paper form). When it reached the end point, it
    was blown back up into letter form and delivered
    to the recipient.

    Some info here:
    http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibits/2d2 a_vmail .html
    http://www.deadmedia.org/notes/49/496.html

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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