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17 Feb 2019
Smart Nation
Negative View - 316
Reduce postal mail

It was reported that a  postal worker in Sing Post has to deliver 3,000 items a day.  It seemed to suggest that the volume of postal mail has increased in recent years and is the reason for some mails being undelivered.

What it did not say is the reason for the increase. A large proportion of the mail is sent by govt agencies and business organizations that could have been sent by e-mail.

There is a paranoia among the govt that email is not secure and can be hacked.

Somebody in the govt must have lay down the rule that email should not be used for govt communication. This rule must have been transmitted by the regulator, e.g. MAS and other bodies, to the business organizations that they regulate. These business organizations also avoid the the use of e-mail.

I wish to give my views about the "stupidity" of this rule.

a) We have to distinguish between normal and confidential mail. Most mail are routine and should be treated as normal. There is nothing confidential about a monthly utility bill or even a statement of property tax. it should be safe to send out non confidential mail by e-mail.

b) If a citizen or taxpayer does not wish to receive communication by e-mail, they can refuse to supply an email address. The communication can then be sent by postal mail. Let the recipient make the choice of the mode of receiving the communication.

c) Many business organizations around the world send their regular invoices by e-mail. They accept that the communication can be hacked, but they make the judgment that the content is not confidential or sensitive. Our organizations in Singapore can adopt a similar practice.

d) A few years ago, a govt agency in Singapore started a project to allow the public to receive govt communication through an OneInbox. This was supposed to be more secure than e-mail. This project was abandoned after a few years, due to poor usage by the govt agencies.

e) Some business and govt organizations have started to send encrypted email. The process of decrypting the email is rather difficult. They used strange passwords that are difficult to use and also stored their encrypted emails in zip files (which posed another level of extraction). I found it difficult to read the encrypted emails.

I am very sad that the paranoia in the  govt about the risk of hacking of e-mail has taken a big toll in increasing the business cost in Singapore. I find this shallow thinking to be quite deplorable. It is time for the people in charge of our Smart Nation project to review this issue.

Tan Kin Lian


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