USIIA Asks Congress to Curb USPS Competition

The U.S. Internet Industries Association, Arlington, VA, sent letters this week to 38 members of Congress involved in oversight of the U.S. Postal Service, technology policy and digital signatures, asking for legislation that would limit the USPS' entry into the electronic commerce industry.

“We are deeply concerned that the postal ervice, representing itself as an agency of the U.S. government, has launched a variety of new programs in direct competition with private enterprise,” David P. McClure, executive director, USIIA, said in the letter. “These programs include, but are not limited to, the mapping of physical addresses to an 'official' USPS e-mail address; electronic bill presentment and payment services; and a new electronic postmark program that will forestall private-sector initiatives in digital signatures.”

The USPS recently announced several new e-commerce initiatives as a reaction to its fear of losing First-Class mail revenue to the Internet. Postmaster General William J. Henderson has said the agency could lose as much as $17 billion in First-Class mail revenue to e-commerce competition in the future.

This week the USPS announced an electronic document delivery service called Post Electronic Courier Service, or PosteCS, which enables users to send documents securely via the Internet.

In its letter, the USIIA, a trade association for Internet commerce, content and connectivity, also claimed that the USPS launched its e-commerce programs without public notice, public hearings or competitive bids.

Moreover, the letter said the USPS “has indicated that it will continue to launch new electronic commerce programs to directly compete with other segments of private industry, creating more opportunities for disruption of the growth and well-being of existing companies and services as well as the disruption of carefully crafted international policy.”

A copy of the letter sent to Rep. Christopher Cox, D-CA, may be seen at the USIIA web site at Cox is a member of the House telecommunications, trade and consumer protection subcommittee.

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