Out of 23 posts in industrialized countries, the U.S. Postal Service is one of the few remaining posts not offering an eMailbox solution to its citizens. And while there are private sector technology industry standouts in the U.S. that have developed widely popular e-mail and secure storage services, their business models sacrifice consumer privacy in the interest of ad-based revenue generation.
In an increasingly digital world, it may make sense for the Postal Service to offer eMailbox services in addition to traditional delivery. A consumer would also be able to sign up for an accompanying highly secure data storage area service called the eLockbox, which would provide added security for the archiving of important legal and personal documents with anytime, anywhere secure access. Today many electronic documents, especially financial records, reside primarily on the banks or billers Web site and not with the consumer.
The Office of Inspector General Risk Analysis Research Center’s new paper eMailbox and eLockbox: Opportunities for the Postal Service (Report Number RARC-WP-12-001) explores these concepts. This white paper is the fourth paper in the Digital series, and presents a case for offering an eMailbox and eLockbox. Some of the paper’s findings include:
1. As communication channels become increasingly consumer-centric, the eMailbox and eLockbox would empower individuals to transition to full electronic delivery at their own pace.
2. The linking of one’s physical identity and address to the eMailbox address will provide high identity assurance necessary for transactions, which require privacy, confidentiality, authentication and non-repudiation such as for legal and financial correspondence.
3. The Postal Service, offers protection from theft, interference, fraud and forgery under federal law, utilizing two law enforcement organizations (the Office of Inspector General and the Inspection Service).
4. Advertising mail would only be allowed from entities registered with the Postal eMailbox system and with the consent of the receiver.
Together, the concept of the eMailbox and eLockbox services reflects a natural extension of the Postal Service’s role in the physical world as the trusted custodian of the nation’s address management system. The product provides a digital service linking American households and businesses in a trusted and verifiable way, while empowering consumers to determine the pace and extent of the service’s use. This product suite should be further developed as the organization implements new digital services.
What do you think? Would you use a Postal eMailbox?
This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.