[GRRN] Junk Mail: A Modest Proposal

From: Lacaze, Skip (Skip.Lacaze@ci.sj.ca.us)
Date: Thu Jul 13 2000 - 16:07:56 EDT

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    The US Postal Service maintains an online database that allows one to look
    up the ZIP+4 code for any U.S. mailing address. It uses address ranges
    instead of exact street addresses.

    They have other products that are used for mailers to verify addresses, in
    order to clean up their mailing lists and avoid wasting postage (and paper)
    sending stuff to non-existent addresses. It seems to me that the USPS is
    the only agency that is in a position to effect a reduction in direct mail
    abuse. If mail recipients could easily opt out by notifying the USPS, who
    could then identify such addresses as non-deliverable for unsolicited
    commercial mail, or, at least, for unsolicited commercial bulk mail, then
    mailers could be required to use such information to delete those addresses
    from their mailing lists, subject to loss of mailing discounts, at least, or
    to serious penalties. The system could be broadened to obligate all
    mass-mailers and spammers to use the service, on a cost-recovery basis.

    The ZIP+4 system has over 30 million records. A database with every
    deliverable address in the U.S. would only be about 10 times as large, and
    it would lots of additional uses that would justify the effort and allow for
    the cost to be recovered.

    I would be concerned about losing the ability to use direct mail for
    Californians Against Waste fund raising, and doubt that direct mail could be
    completely forbidden. However, it could be required to pay the basic first
    class rate if it is not screened against the reject list.

    Skip Lacaze
    Civic Services Manager
    Integrated Waste Management Division
    Environmental Services Department
    777 N 1st Street, Suite 300
    San Jose, CA 95112

    voice: 408/277-3994
    fax: 408/277-3669
    100% San Jose. Recycle where you Live, Work and Play

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