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(This one of several variations of the e-mail being distributed)

|| The True Facts ||

Subj: Congress and the Internet - Important
Date: (varies)

> CNN has reported that within the next two weeks
> Congress is going to vote on allowing telephone
> companies to CHARGE A TOLL FEE for Internet
> access. Translation: Every time we send a long
> distance e-mail we will receive a long distance
> charge. This will get costly.

> Please visit the following web site and file a
> complaint. Complain to your Congressperson. We
> can't allow this to pass! The following address
> will allow you to send an e-mail on this subject
> DIRECTLY to your Congressperson.

> Pass this on to your friends. It is urgent! I
> hope all of you will pass this on to all your
> friends and family. We should ALL have an
> interest in this one.

> months have revealed an alarming trend in the
> Government of the United States attempting to
> quietly push through legislation that will
> affect your use of the Internet. Under proposed
> legislation the U.S. Postal Service will be
> attempting to bilk email users out of
> "alternate postage fees". Bill 602P will permit
> the Federal Govt to charge a 5 cent surcharge
> on every email delivered, by billing Internet
> Service Providers at source. The consumer would
> then be billed in turn by the ISP.

> Washington D.C. lawyer Richard Stepp is working
> without pay to prevent this legislation from
> becoming law. The U.S. Postal Service is
> claiming that lost revenue due to the
> proliferation of email is costing nearly
> $230,000,000 in revenue per year. You may have
> noticed their recent ad campaign "There is
> nothing like a letter". Since the average
> citizen received about 10 pieces of email per
> day in 1998, the cost to the typical individual
> would be an additional 50 cents per day, or
> over $180 dollars per year, above and beyond
> their regular Internet costs.

> Note that this would be money paid directly
> to the U.S. Postal Service for a service they
> do not even provide. The whole point of the
> Internet is democracy and non-interference.
> If the federal government is permitted to
> tamper with our liberties by adding a
> surcharge to email, who knows where it will
> end. You are already paying an exorbitant
> price for snail mail because of bureaucratic
> inefficiency. It currently takes up to 6
> days for a letter to be delivered from New
> York to Buffalo. If the U.S. Postal Service
> is allowed to tinker with email, it will mark
> the end of the "free" Internet in the United
> States. One congressman, Tony Schnell, has
> even suggested a "twenty to forty dollar per
> month surcharge on all internet service"
> above and beyond the government's proposed
> email charges.

> Note that most of the major newspapers have
> ignored the story, the only exception being
> the Washingtonian which called the idea of
> email surcharge "a useful concept who's time
> has come" (March 6th, 1999) Editorial.

> Don't sit by and watch your freedoms erode
> away! Send this e-mail to EVERYONE on your
> list, and tell all your friends and relatives
> to write to their congressman and say "No!"
> to Bill 602P.

> It will only take a few moments of your time,
> and could very well be instrumental in killing
> a bill we don't want.


The above e-mail is one of many Internet hoaxes and is completely false. The true facts are:

  1. There is no such "CNN report" as referenced in the e-mail.

  2. A search for "Bill 602P" reveals is not an valid bill. Further, "P" is not a proper bill designation. The designation should either be an H.R. (for the House of Representatives) or an S. (for the Senate) and preceeds the bill's number, e.g. H.R.20 or S.12. In fact, bills such as S.1043 show the Government actually has the opposite objective than that alleged in the e-mail (see "Internet Regulatory Freedom Act of 1999," proposing the eliminatination of unnecessary regulation that impedes making advanced Internet service available to all Americans at affordable prices).

  3. A search of the Martindale-Hubbell and West lawyer directories reveal that there are no attorneys named "Richard Stepp" practicing law in Washington D.C. Some e-mails also appear with Mr. Stepp's assistant, "Kate Turner" listed at the bottom.

  4. There is no Congressman "Tony Schnell" of record in the 106th Congress.

  5. There is no "March 6th" issue of the "Washingtonian" (it's a monthly periodical).

  6. Unbeknownst to many, e-mail is not sent as a single file but rather it's broken up into parts called "packets." When sent, each packet is left to find its own path of least resistence and then reassembles itself at the addressees mail server. Consequently, such a "TOLL FEE" on e-mail would not only be impossible, but impractical as well due to the fact that some packets find routes through other countries before arriving at the addressees mail server; thus, the user (under the e-mail's guidelines) would be charged international calling rates as well and domestic rates for the same e-mail. In furtherance of this falsehood, the tracking of e-mail has not evolved to the realm where the individual packets can be tracked.

  7. Media relations manager for the U.S. Postal Service, Roy Betts, recently commented, "It's obviously a hoax." Further, Congressman Lamar Smith has also recently stated on his Website, "[N]either the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nor Congress is planning to impose a per-minute fee on access to the Internet...."

    In view of the above,

    Nothing in the above e-mail rings true; and based upon all of its inconsistencies and falsities, it has been dismissed as a bothersome hoax. It is yet another myth attempting to stir up peoples emotions about the Internet. This e-mail runs around in varying forms every few months (even in Canada and Australia). Don't let yourself be fooled!

Have you heard of something that you believe is a myth?
Send it to us and let us investigate it for you!

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