Postmarking e-mail

As electronic messaging continues to gain popularity over handwritten correspondence,

the U.S. Postal Service hopes to maintain its tradition of providing secure

delivery of information through its Electronic Postmark.

USPS' Electronic Postmark, released April 20, can be attached to any

Internet communication and protects documents by detecting if a document

or file has been tampered with in transit. The postmark also will make it

easier to investigate and determine who tampered with a document and when.

Similar to a receipt one receives when mailing a package, customers

using the Electronic Postmark will be able to provide proof that a document

existed at a specific time and date.

"The Electronic Postmark will give online communicators a little peace

of mind and add a level of trust and security that Americans have come to

expect from sending a regular hard-copy letter," deputy Postmaster General

John Nolan said. "Today, the Postal Service brings our trademark values

of security, trust and tradition to the brave new world of the Internet."

The Electronic Postmark is not a replacement for e-mail service, but

rather an added feature that Internet service providers can offer customers,

a USPS spokeswoman said. PostX Corp., a provider of applications for high-volume,

secure Internet platforms, is the first commercial vendor to offer the Electronic

Postmark to its customers.

"This is an innovative service that combines the integrity and protection

of the Postal Service with the speed and convenience of the Internet," said

R.C. Venkatraman, founder and chief executive officer of PostX.

AT A GLANCE

The USPS Electronic Postmark will provide:

* Detection of changes in a postmarked document.

* Trusted third-party validation of a document's existence at a specificdate and time.

* Added security through the investigation of illegally interceptedor tampered-with electronic documents.

Related Stories

"Postal Service becomes a dot-com" [FCW.com, April 17, 2000]

"USPS puts stamp on online billing" [Federal Computer Week, April 10, 2000]

"Postal Service first to try online reverse auctions" [Federal Computer Week, April 17, 2000]

BY Natasha Haubold
May 1, 2000

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