Bill 602P . . . charging for e-mail

I received an e-mail at work today, asking me to write my congressman about bill 602P, which would allow the US Postal service to charge .05 for each e-mail we send. According to the story, an individual’s ISP would bill you for each e-mail.

I checked out, and the search turned up no results, saying that “602P” wasn’t a valid bill number. I’m used to getting e-mails that don’t exactly ring true: The Victoria’s Secret gift certificate “offer” is one of the ones I get more often, but this one got me to thinking.

If the government wanted to pass a bill like this, what are the legal/Constitutional issues involved? Is such legislation feasible, or practical? Could they do it? What about web-based e-mail, like Hotmail? (I realise that e-mail must have taken a big bite out of the ass of Post Office profits, but I thought the Post Office was non-profit anyway.) What about faxing?

I think that will steer you in the right direction on this one. This sort of thing crops up frequently.

There’s a certain amount of cleverness in the number of the bill, however. S. 602 is the “Stealth Tax Prevention Act”, which is intended to prevent the IRS from being able to increase tax revenue simply by altering regulations.

Congress currently has a moratorium on any taxation on the Internet. But several bills have been introduced that stupidly contradict that position, and ominously, still more attempt to erode that position by dividing Internet access along geographical boundaries, opening up taxation by state governments (currently, states are not overtly prevented by such a thing, and some are already meddling in their citizens free access, but most are waiting for a clear directive from Congress). Check out the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, H. R. 3125, and the testimony for and against it, for an example of a dangerous bill which stems from an uninformed position on how the Internet works.

You can find out scads more from the Library of Congress, which runs one of the most important sites on the Internet, THOMAS, which can be reached through

It’s a hoax. Snopes covers it at:

check out the OP again, please, I believe that lissa sez:

bolding mine.

I don’t think Lissa believed the e-mail, just wondered about IF it was possible, how would it work etc.

Faxing, there’s a federal tax on phone line usage, so, there’s sorta a precedent.

e-mail, I don’t think has taken quite the bite that folks assume out of the PO, since lots of what goes over e-mail is more of the variety of "I’d have called you " stuff. Faxing may have taken a bite, but that would be hard to track, and besides, I believe that all the trading going on with e-bay et all has more than made up for the items that they may have lost due to e-mail. Post Office is supposed to be self supporting (vs. non profit), a fine difference.

enough from me.

Okay, I reread the OP and I’m agreeing with wring on its interpretation. Lissa asked a what if question based on an urban legend. Down to the legality: Yes, it might happen. Yes, I can see it happening. No, I can’t see it being enforcable. Why not? Hotmail. How would all those free e-mail providers know who was getting what by way of e-mail? There is absolutely no reason for anyone to use their real names when getting a free e-mail account. How do you tax a fiction? Because a fiction is using the account, and a fiction is providing all of that false information. In short it would be impossible to enforce, even if it did happen.

      • I dunno if the gov’t (US, I am assuming) could easily charge for any transaction on the net, it being international and decentralized and all. I’m sure they’d like to be able to.
  • I think ISP’s/services should start charging based on the amount of volume used (anything you automatically send and anything you choose to download you should have to pay for); there’s so much crap on the web/net and charging the morons who push it is the only way to kill it. - MC

I read somewhere that personal letters account for all of 3% of the USPS’s volume, so e-mail can’t have taken that big a bite. Seriously, before e-mail the only mail I ever got was bills, junk-mail, X-mas and birthday cards, and the occasional personal letter. Now that we have e-mail, the only snail-mail I ever get is bills, junk-mail, and X-mas and birthday cards. I’d say the volume of mail in my personal mailbox hasn’t decreased at all since the advent of e-mail, so I doubt the USPS is wringing their hands about it.

Lots of ISPs in Europe charge by the byte. It’s not a good deal from what I hear. On the other hand, it would justify the prosecution and immediate execution of spammers.

Finally a bill I can support. I guess they send them all to Texas? Where do I sign?