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RealTime IT News

Could 'Smart Mail' Ease Postal Fears?

Internet postage outfit Stamps.com said it has named an internal task force to brainstorm outside of the box, looking "to utilize the security inherent" in its online postage solution.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company said that its service can provide extensive information regarding a sender's identity, point of origination and the path taken through the mail system.

Clearly that information would be helpful in tracking down those who might be sending harmful biological agents through the U.S. mails. Just as clearly, potential terrorists are not going to be so dumb as to send traceable mail.

However, Stamps.com cited other benefits and said it intends to develop new features to further improve mail security for its customers.

The company's postage solution utilizes information-based indicia, or cryptographic two-dimensional bar-codes, as a replacement for traditional postage. This "intelligent" postage, which can be printed using standard PC printers, contains important mail processing information that can provide valuable assistance to authorities investigating inappropriate postal activities, the company said.

"Stamps.com's secure technology provides mail recipients greater peace of mind," said Stamps.com CEO Ken McBride. "Each piece of mail sent using Stamps.com is unique and traceable by authorities to its sender, thus serving as a deterrent to those intent on using the postal system to do harm. Mail sent using the Stamps.com service is also associated with an individual credit card or checking account, which can further reduce the opportunity for abuse."

"With a two-dimensional bar-code on the envelope or package, recipients can feel more assured today that their mail is traceable and secure," McBride said.

Internet postage has been one of those ideas that sounded like a natural, but it has had a difficult time catching on to any great extent. Stamps.com has never had a profitable quarter and last August it made its third round of job cuts in less than a year. Rival E-Stamp abandoned the Internet postage business earlier this year.