Summary of eRumor:
widely distributed email warns that legislation has been introduced in congress
to add a surcharge to email. Congressional "Bill
602P" would add a 5 cents per email tax in order to make up for millions of
dollars being lost by the Postal Service because of people using email to
correspond instead of letters. The email makes reference to a recent
publicity campaign by the Postal Service called "There is Nothing Like a
Letter" and includes a quote from Congressman Tony Schnell. It
urges that Internet users contact their representatives in congress to oppose
The Truth: TruthOrFiction.com
has designated this as not just a rumor, but a hoax, an intentional email of
misinformation. Since it isn't benefiting or harming anyone in particular,
it is probably a prank. According to both the U.S. House of
Representatives and the U.S. Postal Service, no such proposal has been planned
or submitted. There has never been a campaign by the Postal Service with
the theme, "There's Nothing Like a Letter." According to the
House Of Representatives, there is a bill with the number "HR 602,"
but it has nothing to do with taxing emails. It is about long term health
care insurance. Most notably, the Congressman mentioned in the email,
Congressman Tony Schnell, is a fabrication. There is no such person in
Congress. This appears to be a U.S. version of a similar hoax in Canada in
This is a cousin to a similar eRumor that the Federal Communications Commission
is going to issue a tax on Internet Access, which is also untrue.
A real example of the story as it has been circulated:
US POSTAL CHARGES ON EMAIL??
Read the following and pass it on to
everyone you know:
Dear Internet Subscriber: Please read
the following carefully if you intend
to stay online 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 US Postal Service will be attempting to bilk email users out of
"alternate postage fees".
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 US 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 US Postal Service for a service they do not even
The whole point of the Internet is
democracy and non-interference.
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 inefficiency.
It currently takes up to 6 days for a letter to be delivered from New York to Buffalo. If the US Postal
Service is allowed to tinker with email, it will mark the end of the
"free" Internet in the United States.
Tony Schnell ® 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 who's time has come" (March 6th 1999 Editorial)
sit by and watch your freedoms 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.
Turner, Assistant to Richard Stepp; Berger, Stepp and Gorman Attorneys
at Law. 216 Concorde Street, Vienna, Va.
It's the action, not the fruit of the
action that's important. You have to
do the right thing...You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no