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Post Office gets into e-commerce

Electronic documents and letters will soon receive protection and timely delivery under an ambitious plan by the U.S. Postal Service and Cylink to build a national Electronic Commerce System.

Electronic documents and letters will soon receive protection and timely delivery under an ambitious plan by the U.S. Postal Service and Cylink to build a national Electronic Commerce System.

The system, slated for availability next year, is planned to be as accessible as first-class mail is today and will cost about one-third as much.

This is the second announcement this week that highlights the Postal Service's entry into electronic commerce. The agency teamed up with Sun Microsystems and Enterprise Productivity Systems yesterday to introduce a new Java-based application to help process the mail.

As part of its e-commerce expansion, the Postal Service will provide electronic postmarks to prove that documents existed at specific times and have not been tampered with. The stamps will also help prevent postal fraud.

The system announced today also will feature identity authentication, verification of service, and registered return receipt confirmation. Additional features including archival storage of transaction records are in the works.

Cylink is designing and building the system, which will have a secure transaction infrastructure.