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Finland To Try Scanning Snail Mail

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the neither-rain-nor-sleet-nor-wicked-lag dept.

Communications 152

will_die writes "In an effort to cut carbon emissions and reduce costs, Finland's postal company, Itella, has begun a pilot program wherein snail-mail letters are converted into PDFs and made viewable online by their addressees, instead or in advance of physical delivery. The effort is volunteer only — a little over 100 people and around 20 business as of last month — but it has already sparked concerns in Finland about privacy and government overreach. The volunteers will have images of all their letters viewable on a computer or phone. The postman will still arrive twice a week to deliver the scanned letters, as well as any packages or attachments. Additionally, the postal service will filter out junk mail."

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Kind of like something that already exists... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31709900)

... but no one cares. (since it's too long to title as such.)

This seems like Zumbox on crack.

While the idea of receiving mail digitally has some appeal to me, forcing everyone to receive mail originally sent in a non-digital format as a set of 1s and 0s is... not quite the best idea.

I wouldn't mind receiving my electric, water, and cable bill as a digital sending each month (and I already do via email), but certain things (bills from collections agencies come to mind) are things that I, and ONLY I need to see.

Now, with something like this, if the ability to respond electronically to the mail were there and available to us, even if there's some sort of digital postage (at a reduced cost, preferably, if we choose to not send a dead tree copy of the same letter) that was needed, maybe it would start to appeal to more.

Best case for that would be when my doctor sends me paperwork to fill out before I come in. If I can log into a secure server, receive the forms, type in the data (memo: we need to have something other than Adobe for forms, ffs. Plain old HTML forms should be fine), and submit that electronically...
If the doctor needs a dead tree version at that point, they can print it.

Re:Kind of like something that already exists... (2, Insightful)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710310)

In other words, avoiding the mail system altogether, which shows that the postal system is slowly becoming antiquated. This program is just a dying industry trying to remain relevant.

Re:Kind of like something that already exists... (2, Insightful)

chewedtoothpick (564184) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710854)

I believe you are amazingly shortsighted that you think postal systems are irrelevant. Can you think of any other completely effective way to physically deliver large quantities of physical items to households covering a large geographical area, without the expense of storefronts etc?

I quite disagree that postal systems are dieing - I believe that in this day of internet shopping postal systems are becoming far more widely utilized than ever.

Re:Kind of like something that already exists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31711158)

Can you think of any other completely effective way to physically deliver large quantities of physical items to households covering a large geographical area, without the expense of storefronts etc?

Ocado seem to do it well in the UK (www.ocado.com)

Re:Kind of like something that already exists... (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711494)

There is a difference between a postal system and a package delivery system. Postal delivery is dying, but package delivery is another story. FedEx and UPS don't do postal delivery. IIRC, it is technically illegal for them to handle mail. That is protected for the subsidized USPS. They will still send a single sheet of paper if you want (like resumes/legal paperwork that has to be there by 4pm the next day) but they handle it as a package and charge way more than USPS would.

Re:Kind of like something that already exists... (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711222)

Obligatory quote: I think you're severely underestimating the bandwidth of a 747 full of BluRay discs.

Other than that, I like to receive some mail in pre-printed, signed and ready-to-archive-forever version. Preferably when larger sums of money is involved.

And I like the peace of mind knowing that no ECHELON or whatever read my mail. GPG-encrypted email would work, but I can't even get my coworkers to use that, let alone mom and grandma.

Until Big Government is cut back far enough to actually respect email privacy as good as snail mail, I'm counting on the dead tree envelope. Both are protected by the constitution, but somehow They only care about paper security.

ORLY? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31709906)

april fools...

Re:ORLY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710242)

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jTlosv9uqU7jQUMPogpOKouzppMA

It's even in the link! April Fools' Professional.

Re:ORLY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710654)

It was on Finnish news media before April Fools, and the trial begins in few weeks in a small village.

Why not? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709920)

Why not? What comes in by snail mail today?

  1. Bills from companies that don't handle online billing.
  2. Junk mail.

And they're filtering out the junk mail!

Re:Why not? (2, Informative)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709960)

And if you get a birthday card with money in it? Who is to say you didn't get two 20's in that letter. The postal service was only able to locate one of those!

Or, say it's a private letter about financial information and now they have all your account information, oh and all your other personally identifiable information was in other letters that week so your identity is safe with you, and the person that opened all your mail.

It's just not a good idea in the long run. Maybe as an opt-in service for those who _know_ what is/isn't showing up in snail mail?

Re:Why not? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709996)

I've gotten one piece of non-junk mail in the last year. I'll happily tell people not to send money in exchange for cutting off the junk. Who the hell mails cash instead of a check anyway?

Re:Why not? (1)

Zephiris (788562) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710024)

Grandmothers. Grandpas. Aunts. Uncles. The people who aren't close enough to you to care, and not with-it enough to do robust things like check, credit transfer, or god-forbid, an actual thoughtful gift. ^^;

Re:Why not? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710102)

Oh I think money is plenty thoughtful- they're thoughtful enough to let me get something I want, rather than guessing wrong. But hasn't the post office warned people for decades not to send cash by mail?

Re:Why not? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710136)

Who is to say you didn't get two 20's in that letter.

Don't everyone's grandparents put steganographic checksums for enclosed money in the text of their letter? :P

Re:Why not? (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710534)

Who is to say you didn't get two 20's in that letter.

Don't everyone's grandparents put steganographic checksums for enclosed money in the text of their letter? :P

Who's your Grandfather? Alan Turing?

Oh wait...

Re:Why not? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710206)

Its no more likely to happen with it being done this way than it currently is.

Its really not hard to open an envelope, fuck with the contents, and reseal it without anyone noticing after the fact.

The fact that the places that are going to be doing this are most certainly monitored to all hell and back like most postal sorting facilities already are.

You are being paranoid about a problem that would already exist if it were actually going to be a problem.

Like it or not, this is the way things are going. The transition is going to happen and when it does there are going to be initial issues that need to be worked out, but thats not an excuse for not doing it.

The pony express riders could read your mail and steal your money too, far easier than now where most of the work is done by machines rather than hands on by people ... but it was still a good thing to have wasn't it?

People have always had their hands on your mail and had this ability. They've had scanners for years that would make it easy to spot money in something and to stick that one aside. Hell, a hand held high power UV light in your palm being held over the envelopes will get you enough of a reflection to detect the plastic strip in american bills so you only have to open the ones with money in them, making it pretty much identical to this in every way. If you trust your mailman, this is no different, he can already do this if he wants to.

Fortunately, most people find it easier to just do their job than to try and scam people via the mail and end up in a federal prison ... at least here in the states. I doubt its really that much different in Finland.

Re:Why not? (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710416)

And if you get a birthday card with money in it? Who is to say you didn't get two 20's in that letter. The postal service was only able to locate one of those!

RTFA. It says the system is voluntary. If you send money in your birthday card (and it is never a good idea to send cash in the mail), then don't volunteer to have that piece of mail scanned!

Re:Why not? (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711020)

"RTFA. It says the system is voluntary. If you send money in your birthday card (and it is never a good idea to send cash in the mail), then don't volunteer to have that piece of mail scanned!"

RTFA yourself. The system is currently voluntary for the recipient, for whom all of their mail will be scanned. It's neither (1) optable by the sender, nor (2) optable per piece of mail. On top of all that, this is a test for a universal (presumably non-optable) rollout.

Re:Why not? (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711432)

RTFA yourself. The system is currently voluntary for the recipient, for whom all of their mail will be scanned.

Well, it's the recipient who would be out the twenty bucks, so I think my point still stands.

Re:Why not? (1)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710528)

Sending money via the mail system is not legal (in the US, maybe it is in Finland,...and I'm sure people will jump on me if I'm wrong). And if you read the article it IS and opt-in only program, they aren't forcing anyone to do it.

Re:Why not? (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710630)

I'm sorry but you're dead wrong.
While it is a bad idea to send cash through the mail in the US it is in no way illegal.

Re:Why not? (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710878)

Definitely wrong. Case in point, when I got the letter from Nielson (sp?) for tv ratings they sent me a total of 5 $1 bills through snail mail.

Re:Why not? (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709968)

How are they going to transmit those crappy Discover credit card offers with the fake and completely unshreddable plastic credit card in it?! Oh noes!!

Re:Why not? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710022)

and completely unshreddable plastic credit card in it

You need a better shredder. And no, no business grade. $40 at OfficeMax, and it eats cred cards, CD's, anything. I don't even open the junk mail..just shove the whole envelope in.

Re:Why not? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710004)

3. Letters from Grandparents
4. Checks
5. Legally binding documents (i.e titles, deeds, contracts)

Re:Why not? (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710016)

Bills from companies that you don't trust to handle online billing.

FTFY.

Bills in the mail aren't exclusively from companies that don't handle online billing. Some of us choose to continue with paper versions of bills because we do not trust putting our credit card and/or bank account information into commonly used, high profile websites on a monthly basis.

Re:Why not? (2, Informative)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710514)

Btw, you can still pay these paper bills online for free. I pay the small part of my dentist bill that insurance doesn't pay (have gone there forever, should find in network dentist) online. Plus, anybody you mail a check to has all of the info to get money out of your account.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710098)

my dope come by snail mail

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710158)

Why not? Because it's stupid. If it's urgent, it isn't sent just by snail mail. If it's important to have the paper (real signatures, etc.), the scanned version doesn't suffice. Consequently they have to deliver the paper version anyway (which they do), but then the sender could just send a PDF by email in advance and the paper version by snail mail, and thereby completely avoid third party involvement. The privacy problem involves two sides: The recipient can agree to the procedure, but how is the sender's privacy preserved? Another new problem: What if the scan arrives and the snail mail with an important signature is lost en-route?

no thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31709934)

I guess everyone has to GPG and OCR their private letters now ...

Sounds fine to me (1)

monoi (811392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709950)

With the exception of contracts and suchlike (which would obviously be outside this scheme), I can't think of anything sensitive that I receive by snail mail these days.

Everything I really care about the security of (bank statements, personal messages etc) comes over the web, via TLS.

Re:Sounds fine to me (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710198)

I can't think of anything sensitive that I receive by snail mail these days.

Dear So-and-so,
The results of your AIDS/STD tests are in.
Please contact us for a follow-up appointment ASAP.
Sincerely,
Your Doctor.

1 day ago (1)

xerent_sweden (1010825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709954)

Posted 1 day ago, is this a late april fools joke?

Re:1 day ago (1)

Orbijx (1208864) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709980)

Doesn't seem so. Following a few links through the article, they genuinely appear to have a site set up for receiving digital mail.

Requires either a user/pass set, or a (government issued? possibly as part of the ID?) smartcard read by the site to get logged in.

I'm nowhere near there, so I lack a user/pass or ID for login, but it seems to be legit.

Re:1 day ago (1)

Orbijx (1208864) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710078)

A derp-a-derp-derp.
Would help if I actually linked what I discovered.

From TFA, I followed a link over to a blog at the Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk] that contained links to the Netposti [netposti.fi] interface (link set to english. På svenska [netposti.fi] , Suomeksi [netposti.fi] are options for .fi, .se).

What shows up after logging in, I have to leave to someone who actually has a login for the service. It'd be an expensive, expensive trip overseas just for me to get an answer (passport, plane, time off from work, sedatives, rental vehicle, ...), so I'll leave it to someone who might just be able to walk down the road and get set up.

Re:1 day ago (1)

CortoMaltese (828267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710214)

AFAIK this scanning thing is a trial only for a small community. At least for now. But it's not April Fools, that's for sure.

Finnish postal service already provides a service for companies, institutions, etc. to send mail electronically to the postal service, who print out the stuff and deliver the snail mail to the end clients. This probably does save a bunch of CO2, and makes life easier for said companies.

NetPosti you refer to is an interface for receiving such mail electronically, opting out of the snail mail part altogether. Possibly the scanning service uses the same interface.

The scanning service mostly sounds insane to me, but I could imagine someone already using NetPosti wanting to archive everything there. (Like images of the 20 euros your grandma sent you. Eh.) I guess the people would still receive the snail mail, but maybe in batches once or twice a week instead of every weekday.

I would prefer this... (2, Interesting)

the1337g33k (1268908) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709958)

If I could get my actual mail scanned and delivered by e-mail that would be awesome. There are some bills I have that don't have online pay functions yet, and regardless of privacy (since I already sold it to google a while back) this would actually be more private and secure then actually having it delivered. My mail gets stolen from time to time. (yes, I RTFA and I know they still deliver the scanned messages too)

Twice a week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31709964)

The postman will still arrive twice a week to deliver the scanned letters, as well as any packages or attachments.

Twice a week? Post is delivered daily here..
If it was only delivered twice a week it would be even more useless!

Re:Twice a week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710276)

They deliver the original letters (which were scanned and emailed earlier in the week) twice weekly. He's not coming round twice a week to hand you a CD or something, and I presume if you're not in this pilot you still get your mail daily as before.

I just don't see the point -- the only reason I'd ever hard-mail someone something is if I wanted a reasonable level of privacy for non-criminal matters.* Since I want privacy, but it's not criminal, presumably it's something that would be embarrassing or harmful, hence the protection that they'd (no doubt) get fired if they kept a _copy_ does me little good -- they're still relatively free to gossip about it, since there's evidence for that.

* If it were something criminal? Hard-copies are evil, since they _will_ show up in court. Use encryption for that, and real-time communications (IM, or better VoIP) so there's no cached copies generated as part of the mailing process. Fortunately I don't _do_ anything more criminal than light copyright infringement, but us geeks have to consider wierd scenarios.

Not that that's a bad thing in the long run -- maybe people would just move to encrypted email for everything, the government could eventually shut down the letter side of the postal service, and just haul packages (The USPS, of course, would get their butt handed to them by Fedex and UPS in this scenario, but maybe the Finnish post is more efficient.)

Finland has geographic issues (4, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709974)

Finland is really a very small country population-wise, but decently sized in landmass. Under 6M people in the 8th largest country in Europe. This has to make mail distribution very expensive. Add in the weather (I've been to northern Finland in February- well below 0 with snow banks over your head) and I can see why they'd want to minimize or eliminate physical delivery. Its barely economical in the US, I can't see how it could be there.

Re:Finland has geographic issues (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710008)

How does Norway manage 6 days of delivery then? The mountains in the middle certainly haven't impacted the postal service.

Re:Finland has geographic issues (1)

xerent_sweden (1010825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710054)

Probably the same way Sweden deals with it. With a series of tube... I mean, with a truck. There used to be a train going from north to south and back again all day long but it turned out that having trucks was more profitable. Strange.

Norwegian Rail Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31711570)

No, it wasn't more economical, the [Norwegian] Postal service couldn't stand the train delays any longer. It has been a troublesome year for rail services in Norway, a lot of problems with train sets, tracks, lack of personnel and so on.

Re:Finland has geographic issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710110)

Its barely economical in the US, I can't see how it could be there.

Isn’t snail-mail, you know, paid for? I mean, if it’s hard to deliver just, you know, raise the price...

Re:Finland has geographic issues (2, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710142)

Because raising the price causes the demand for mail to go down. Perhaps enough so that you actually make less money than you would at the original price. Which when you have high fixed costs in employees and post offices or the startup cost is the driving factor in cost rather than the marginal cost of production, can actually mean you lose money by raising prices. Business can be weird. Like I said, mail is barely profitable in the US, and it only remains so do to high quantities of junk mail. In the past the post office has been subsidized by Congress. I can't imagine its profitable anywhere in Scandanavia.

Re:Finland has geographic issues (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710264)

Because raising the price causes the demand for mail to go down

Econfag here, ready to nitpick. Saying "demand goes down" implies that nobody wants mail delivery anymore, at any price. What you mean is that less is demanded at the higher price than the current price.

Like you say, raising prices can easily lead to less profit. But, how much more or less profit you make depends on the shape of the demand curve for mail delivery, not whether or not you have high variable costs or sunk costs. (Assuming you are still covering your marginal costs.) I'd suspect that the demand for mail delivery is rather inelastic; a slight bump in prices probably wouldn't cause people to boycott package delivery.

And if it's already unprofitable in Scandinavia, none of it matters anyway. If profit isn't the primary reason to provide mail delivery, the post office won't be disbanded because it was slightly less profitable this year than last.

Other than that, you have a point. You can't just ratchet up prices to a million dollars a package because you want to save money by "delivering" only scanned mail.

Re:Finland has geographic issues (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710582)

8th largest country in Europe

Well okay but thats not very big by world standards.

Re:Finland has geographic issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710702)

8th largest country in Europe

Well okay but thats not very big by world standards.

It's scarcely populated, even by world standards.

If I wanted to send a PDF, I would have (2, Insightful)

kg8484 (1755554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709994)

I call bull on the "effort to cut carbon emissions" - this is purely about the costs and the carbon emissions are a byproduct (gas costs money). When I send a letter, I mean to send a letter. Not an electronic document. Now, this does not happen very often, so usually, I do communicate via email. I don't need the post office tampering with the mail. Furthermore:

"This (secure digital mailbox) is totally different from e-mail. It is comparable to web banking," said Tommi Tikka, development director at state-owned Itella, which runs the Nordic country's postal system.

So people's mail is stored on some server, probably totally unencrypted and requiring only a login to get in. Cue the hacking and government abuse - I can imagine it now; "We don't need a warrant, it's already in this database. People have no expectation of privacy when sending letters." (IANAL - or rather, "I Am Not A Finnish Lawyer" and really have no ideas of the laws in that country).

Luckily, this is all on a volunteer basis (for now), and I think from a cost-cutting perspective, it does make sense to reduce the number of deliveries by postman for non-express mail to twice a week since the volume of mail has probably shrunk (I have no statistics for this, solely based on personal experience).

Sparked concerns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710030)

already sparked concerns

Has it? Really? Don't `they' publish the annual income of every citizen on-line in Finland, as a matter of public record? Or is that some other European whitebread workers paradise? Either way I seriously doubt there are any actual fins concerned about this.

If only... (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710040)

Wouldn't this be wonderful! Most of what I get by snail is bills or junk mail. Now to automate the spam filter for physical mail just like I have for email. Cuts down on 99% of the junk. Less filling too.

Junk Mail (3, Interesting)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710050)

Political Dissident: Hey, I sent out my anti-government newsletter to 1000 people. But only a few got it. What gives?
Government: I guess it was mis-tagged as junk mail. Our bad. Sorry it's already been deleted. No, we don't back up junk mail.

Re:Junk Mail (0, Flamebait)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710222)

The government doesn't interfere with such things.

They just log them, copy them, pass the copy along to the analysts, and deliver the mail, so as not to arouse the suspicions of people who are already paranoid.

(Kids, if you think there's any reason in the world for the US Government to be running a delivery service, other than that it simplifies intelligence gathering immensely, then you probably didn't go to business school.)

Re:Junk Mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710324)

Yep, that Benjamin Franklin, he was a wily one... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service#History. In addition to scientist, inventor, statesman, and first postmaster general, we can now all safely add Super Spy.

Re:Junk Mail (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710314)

First way to tell if its junk mail: does it say 'resident' (or whatever your language happens to be) in the addressee? Yes? Its junk.

No? Maybe junk, maybe not.

If you just throw out the ones with the wrong addressee name for the address or ones that say 'current resident' or variations on that then you've already cut down on 99.9% of the problem with junk mail.

Re:Junk Mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710602)

does it say 'resident' (or whatever your language happens to be) in the addressee? Yes? Its junk.

Or it might be a voter registration form. Or notification of a planning application to build an abattoir next door to your house; or a new railway over your house. I'll continue to take the "resident" mail thanks.

Re:Junk Mail (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710516)

Actually, the real problem with junk mail (in the US at least) is that it's the largest source of revenue for the USPS (over 50% of volume!) So it's actually in their interest to keep allowing the horribly wasteful and inefficient practice.

Re:Junk Mail (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711514)

In the US "junk mail" PAYS FOR THE POST OFFICE DAMMIT. It pays. It pays. It damn well fucking pays. It is one of the few reasons rural post offices can remain open.

Couple that with the BTU's that marketers send and it is a double economic whammy!

In one months time I get enough 'junk mail' that is safely burnable to lower my heating bill about $30. Eh carbon schmarben.

Some of it is perfect for the masking needed for electrolytic etching of brass and the masking needed for other metals.

What is not safely burnable can be in some way recycled or has other uses. There's a process that can turn newsprint to micarta like laminate which is durable and other than the paper is non-toxic. It's final toxicity is dependent on the paper.

I know it's a hideous thought but you can get more junk mail.

V-Mail (victory mail) (2, Informative)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710068)

Old idea, new implementation.

PDFs instead of film negatives.

Re:V-Mail (victory mail) (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710234)

Yea, except the general public can actually do something with PDFs, where as film negatives are really a pain in the ass to deal with for this purpose.

True, old idea, new implementation, but its definitely an improvement over the last one.

Re:V-Mail (victory mail) (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710596)

Yea, except the general public can actually do something with PDFs, where as film negatives are really a pain in the ass to deal with for this purpose.

Especially if you want them to be really private.

Re:V-Mail (victory mail) (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711226)

Especially if you want them to be really private.

There was no privacy in V-Mail, of course. It was wartime, and you were writing to troops in the field (or they were writing to you). Every V-Mail was read and censored before being microfilmed; everybody was very aware this was the case.

Re:V-Mail (victory mail) (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711204)

film negatives are really a pain in the ass to deal with for this purpose.

Not so bad when you're set up to process it in bulk. The recipient never got the microfilm negative, of course; he got a print of the image produced by the V-Mail facility. The size was still reduced by 60%, though.

You Insensitive Clod. . . (1)

milonssecretsn (1392667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710076)

"all their letters viewable on a computer or phone"

I only have a dial-tone phone. How am I supposed to view my letters?

no junk mail? (1)

paulcone (1388145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710082)

I thought the postal service MADE money from junk mail?

Re: no junk mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710170)

Now they make money to remove junk mail. And will make extra money for AdvertisePlus that by pass junk mail removal. just like the caller id scam.

Re: no junk mail? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710250)

Lots and lots and lots of money.

The one service in the U.S. that will do this mail culling for you charges $19.95 per month for it. And then on top of that, if you actually want something scanned, they charge per-piece fees. And the best one is, if you want them to dispose of the paper copies in a recycling bin it's free, but if you want them to shred the paper copies it's an extra $4.95/month...so if you're doing this to make your bills all-electronic, you have to pay 25% extra or your bills (and the account numbers and other personally identifying info they contain) become the property of the local recycling center...

So there's plenty of room for the US Postal Service to find a way to profit from charging you not to ever deliver you a piece of junk mail or a bill again.

Re: no junk mail? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710260)

Depends on how many assholes like me you have to deal with.

I have a stack of printed 'return to sender' labels laying next to my door. When I get junk mail I put it back in my mailbox with the RTS label on it.

While thats a little nutty I admit, its better than my original plan which was to shove it down the post mans throat before lighting it on fire. At least I don't got to jail this way, and I'm pretty sure it eats into any profit they might have.

Filtering.. (4, Informative)

hallucinogen (1263152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710086)

I'm a Finn. I've already got a filter for spam snail mail. I wrote "Ei mainoksia, kiitos" (no adds, please) to a sticker and placed it on top of my mail slot. The only post I get is postcards from friends and relatives twice a decade or so. Everything else is already digital..

You are a lucky man. Here it is the business model (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710532)

You're a lucky man, Here in the UK it's part of the national post service's business model to accept money from spammers to deliver junk mail. So we get loads of junk mail whether we like it or not. The postal workers recently went on strike because they didn't want to deliver junk mail to people but they got told by the employers they have to, and so have had to back down and accept they must deliver it if they want to keep their jobs.

Re:You are a lucky man. Here it is the business mo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31711006)

I'm also a Finn and I use the "no ads please" message on my mail slot, and I seldom get any junk snail mail. The only spam that is slipping through are spam mails that are addressed directly to me in an envelope. I think such envelopes should class ass a criminal act of spamming by the way.

UK postal workers: the strike was a move in the right direction; no-one should need to put up with that! Please go on strike again, and demand to only volunteerly deliver spam-snail-mail, and DON'T take no for an answer. If no agreement => resign, they'll cave in eventually (or get a more noble job than spamming people... isn't spam activity illegal by the way?? at least on the internet, shouldn't the real world also follow the same rules?) If no-one makes demands nothing would ever change for the better.

Re:Filtering.. (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711284)

Couldn't do that in the US. A carrier could be fired or even criminally prosecuted if he deliberately failed to deliver a piece of mail legally posted to you. It's called "interfering with the mail" and it's a Federal felony.

No Spamming Consumers In Any Way (1)

andersh (229403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711638)

We have the same law(s) in all of Scandinavia (as well as non-Scandinavian Finland).

It extends to e-mail as well, you are not allowed to spam consumers by phone, SMS, email or mail unless you already have a direct relationship with them (i.e. they're already customers).

My government provides a website where you can register your reservation against any form of commercial solicitation. It does however not include charities. All businesses have to update their registers every three months to filter out any new reservations, and it's *their* responsibility to do so. If they break the law there are severe penalties available to the relevant authorities.

Just found out, huh? (1)

idji (984038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710106)

Swiss Post and other Post Companies have been providing these types of services to corporate customers for quite a while now. It's all part of Business Process Outsourcing or adding value to your customers.

Bad Comparison (1)

andersh (229403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711658)

You're missing the point, this is meant to replace postal delivery to all consumers and corporate customers.

That's very different from your "outsourcing" scenario which I doubt very many buy into. This would be the standard service for all, not some extra service you buy.

Packages? (1)

Chess Piece Face (247847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710114)

Don't know about Finland, but I mostly use the mail system for packages and magazines. Wouldn't be very happy if service on those items was cut back to a couple of times per week.

Re:Packages? (1)

spatley (191233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710208)

Really? I would happily wait 2 more days for Architectural Digest or the Economist in effort to reduce government spending and national fuel consumption. What possibly are you receiving by regular post that is day-critical?

Re:Packages? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710300)

Really, because you get packages and magazines every day of the week? You must be fast, I don't think I could read 20 or so magazines every single month. You really can't wait up to ... 4 days ... to get something that comes ones a month? Would you have a embolism if the publish just shifted the mailing date back by 4 days?

And you're sending important things you need to get right away via standard mail rather than FedEx or its equivalent? Really?

$20 says if no one told you, you'd not notice for months.

Re:Packages? (1)

CortoMaltese (828267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710468)

Don't know about Finland, but I mostly use the mail system for packages and magazines.

There's parody on this [www.hs.fi] in Finland's main paper today. "The organically grown lamb you ordered arrived as an attachment."

Already in production in Portugal (1)

wizeman (170426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710134)

This kind of service is already implemented by the national post office in Portugal for a long time.

It's called ViaCTT [viactt.pt] .

ViaCTT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710224)

Catchy name!

How does it cut emissions? (2, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710144)

How are emissions cut when the letters are still delivered? Wouldn't this actually cost more energy since they have to both hand deliver the original mail and use up power scanning and posting the copies? Not to mention the added labor hours required to do so. That looks like a cost increase, not a decrease. And, if they have enough spare employees to where they can actually spend time doing this, would it not be more efficient cost-wise to either just reduce those employees' hours(or move them to part-time) or lay them off altogether?

Re:How does it cut emissions? (1)

grogglefroth (461680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710218)

Fewer deliveries, fewer vehicle miles.
 

Re:How does it cut emissions? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710322)

If the mail is scanned at the receiving mail sorting facility, it will reduce aggregate tonnage of mail transferred to and from central sorting facilities by a lot. It won't reduce trips by much, but it should reduce fuel usage per trip, and thus reduce emission poundage. The next logical step, once the practice is dominant and hardcopy flow becomes a trickle, will be to aggregate mail from slow days, thus reducing trips, too.

And it makes sense. I only check my mailbox once a week, sometimes twice a month. Maybe a little more frequently if I'm chain-watching the Netflix. No reason the postie should be there every day, either.

Privacy? The market will set the price (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710148)

Hey, if you want a guaranteed private mail service then you should be willing to pay more for it. If there really is that demand out there then the free market will set the price and folks who care will voluntarily comply.

Why is this necessary? (2, Interesting)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710180)

We pay all our bills on line - barely any incoming bills, no outgoing checks - I have written maybe 3 checks in the last 5 years. e-mail has replaced most of our correspondence. The only thing that shows up in my mailbox is adverts and the magazines I subscribe to, and very occasionally stuff like property tax assessments and 1099s etc.

How about the postal service let me opt out of getting junk mail delivered? I keep the garbage bin by the mailbox for a reason - only about 5% of what shows up in my mailbox actually survives the walk up the driveway to the house...

Re:Why is this necessary? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710404)

What is a check, or a cheque? Living in Finland, I think I saw one in actual use last time in very early nineties - almost twenty years ago.

I must say this service is largely pointless, and primarily self-promotion of almost-monopoly post office. All the actual mail I get and care about is bills - that I could, with one call, convert to fully "electronic" PDF-only service. Otherwise, I get basically nothing of value, if pizza place menus are not counted.

What Bullshit is this? If I want to send a PDF (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710248)

....I'll scan it myself and send a PDF. Volunteer only tends to turn into the way it's done very quickly if costs can be cut at all. Glad I'm not Finnish. Tell your postmaster to stop smoking weed.

Not real, it was April's Fool joke! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710432)

Wow you believe anything. It was an April's Fool joke in a local newspaper Kaleva.

http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kaleva.fi%2Fuutiset%2Fkirjeiden-skannaus-herattaa-tunteita%2F847518&sl=fi&tl=en

Re:Not real, it was April's Fool joke! (1)

CortoMaltese (828267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710550)

The announcement was made March 29th. It's real.

Seriously, not even the first word? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710562)

The comments on here referring to the UNITED STATES government are amazing. I know most people don't RTFA, I know most people can't even be bothered to finish reading the summary.. but the FIRST WORD OF THE TITLE OF THE POST IS FINLAND.

I would expect this kind of reading comprehension fail in a youtube comments section, but not Slashdot.

Re:Seriously, not even the first word? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710586)

The comments on here referring to the UNITED STATES government are amazing. I know most people don't RTFA, I know most people can't even be bothered to finish reading the summary.. but the FIRST WORD OF THE TITLE OF THE POST IS FINLAND.

I would expect this kind of reading comprehension fail in a youtube comments section, but not Slashdot.

You must be new here.

You can do this in the USA and other places... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710576)

Some full-service private mailbox facilities will do this for you to - they scan all the snail mail that arrives for you and then email the scans to you. Convenient for maintaining a mailing address if you are on the road a lot or are otherwise far away from your mailing address.

ISO Email standard described this I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710600)

If I recall correctly, it stated that an email system should inter-operate with the physical postal delivery system in both directions. So one could write a physical letter, put an email address on the envelope, place it in the post box, the postman would collect it and the local delivery office scan in your letter, ocr it and then email it to the addressee. In the other direction, you could specify a physical street address in your email header, the system would send it to the nearest postal office to that address, who would print it out, place it in an envelope and deliver it.

Not for my .... (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710744)

birthday cards, valentines, ...

Nokia (0, Troll)

pydev (1683904) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710958)

Just let Nokia do it and it will be legally OK.

What they should do... (1)

Uncle Dazza (51170) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710978)

.. is allow people to sign up for a virtual mailing address (like a PO Box number). Mail sent to that address is scanned and emailed.

Then I could choose - I can give my virtual mailing address to utilities that still insist on sending me paper bills, and keep my actual address for 'sensitive' material.

As someone who does personal business in 3 countries and moves relatively often, I'd love to have a service like this.

The second phase, of course, is to interface to the mail senders as well, offering to take PDF files and the print and send them. Or if the recipient is taking scanned bills, just forward the PDF and save a tree.

A few months ago in a Postal office (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711484)

"Heeeey!!! I just figured out how we can get PAID to read Playboys all day!"

Viewable on phone? (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711678)

The volunteers will have images of all their letters viewable on a computer or phone.

Wow, I think phones here work differently than those in Finland.

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