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Post office proposes requiring ID on mail

Regulation offered in response to anthrax scare

Regulation offered in response to anthrax scare

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Postal Service is taking a first step toward requiring all senders of mail to identify themselves, a move prompted by the anthrax scare two years ago this month.

Five people died of anthrax infection and 13 others became sick when an unknown person or persons sent several U.S. senators and media organizations envelopes containing the deadly toxin.

As a first step, the Postal Service has proposed a regulation that would require sender identification of discount-rate mail.

That includes first-class mail, periodicals, standard mail or package-services mailing eligible for any discounted postage rate.

Printed in the Federal Register on October 21, the revision of the Domestic Mail Manual is open for public comment until November 20.

"Sender identification of all discount mailings would serve as a tool in identifying the senders of a large portion of the mailstream. It could also facilitate investigations into the origin of suspicious mail," the proposal said.

The Postal Service said two congressional committees urged it to "explore the concept of sender identification, including the feasibility of using unique, traceable identifiers" -- something likely to draw criticism from privacy advocates.

The President's Commission on the U.S. Postal Service also recommended the use of sender identification recently "for every piece of mail."

Its report, sent to President Bush in late July, said "requiring sender-identification for discount-rate mail is an initial step on the road to intelligent mail."

The report said "intelligent mail" could allow mail tracking and "significantly improve mail security through enhanced traceability."

Because many discount mailings already meet that requirement, the Postal Service said its proposed rule would have little effect on most of these mailers.

Others, however, may have to change their procedures to comply with slightly tighter requirements.

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