Like Swedish Mail, many mail services worldwide, I believe, offer a service where you e-mail them a letter and a list of addresses and they do the paper mailing for you. But now Finnish Mail is trying something pretty badass: they’re doing it the other way around to cut costs and CO2 emissions. Instead of delivering paper mail five days a week to the village of Andersböle-Anttila, they are opening all the mail, scanning it, sending it to the villagers by e-mail and then delivering the paper originals only twice a week. Participants opt in. Those without computers are given machines by Finnish Mail.

(This was in the news on 31 March, it’s not an April Fool’s joke.)

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  1. #1 Krys
    April 1, 2010

    Okay, even if it’s not an April Fool’s day gimmick, what about privacy issues? I’m guessing human handlers open the mail and scan it – are they also reading the mail, even in passing?

  2. #2 Martin R
    April 1, 2010

    That’s the main issue the Finns have with this idea. The mail scanning people are sworn to secrecy and are instructed not to read anything. But yeah, don’t use this medium to plan any crimes.

  3. #3 Don
    April 1, 2010

    This would be a disaster in the US. The lion’s share of our mail is advertising, which we throw into the waste routinely. The waste collection industry would wither without paper mail.

  4. #4 Bob Carlson
    April 1, 2010

    Itella Mail Communication handles the delivery of letters, direct mail, and newspapers and magazines in Finland.

  5. #5 Dr M
    April 1, 2010

    Are you sure this isn’t April Fools? I just assumed it was …

    If it is true, is it opt-in on both the sender’s and receiver’s parts? There is no way I would let someone else open my mail. Even if 99% of it would be more or less benign, there may be the occasional letter that I definitely wouldn’t want anyone else to open. And as a sender, I would certainly want to know if my letter is going to be opened by some random person at a post office.

    And then of course a large portion of mail are from banks etcetera, and those things, while usually no catastrophe if anyone were to see an occasional statement, is not really something people should have easy access to.

  6. #6 Andrew G.
    April 1, 2010

    There are companies in the US that offer this as a service. In one example I saw, the company would receive mail and scan the outside, then the recipient could choose whether to have the item forwarded, discarded, or opened and the contents scanned.

    And no, it’s not obvious from the address whether it’s one of these services, and the sender has no choice in the matter unless they want to do a certain amount of legwork looking up the address.

    (I don’t know if these services are at all popular with real people, but certainly some spammers are fond of them for use as maildrop addresses when forming shell companies, registering domains, etc.)

  7. #7 Paholaisen Asianajaja
    April 1, 2010

    Not an April Fool’s prank. This caused a bit of consternation here in Finland during the week.

  8. #8 Jess
    April 2, 2010

    Besides providing the recipients with a computer, how is this service different then online banking/bill paying and email? Seems like a waste of money and a disparate move by the postal service along with being a possible catalyst to an onslaught of privacy violations.

  9. #9 Martin R
    April 2, 2010

    The idea is that the mail company could save money and cut down on CO2 emissions if they didn’t have to deliver paper mail so often to rural areas.

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