`Postmarks' On E Mail

The U.S. Postal Service is making a bid to become a big player in cyberspace commerce. Later this year, the post office plans to provide "postmarks" for E-mail. When dispatching an E-mail message, a subscriber would click an onscreen icon and the post office would assure the recipient that the sender was authentic--based on a preagreed code. Digital signature technology has been around for years but has languished for lack of a central authority to issue "keys." Oddly enough, the Postal Service is planning to use technology from RSA Data Security Inc. rather than the government's controversial digital-signature standard. Postal officials haven't determined a pricing system, but they're hoping the service will boost business, which has suffered from the growth of E-mail and fax.

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