This just in about "smart stamps" from the US Postal Service
Though details remain sketchy, an intelligent mail system would involve using barcodes or special stamps, identifying, at a minimum, the sender, the destination and the class of mail. USPS already offers mail-tracking services to corporate customers. The report proposes a broad expansion of the concept to all mail for national security purposes. It also suggests USPS work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop the system.
Sketchy is right.... The report itself is here.
Oh, I get it -- it's really a matter of standard government contracting business development...
The commission that released the report is overseen by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and was established by an executive order from President Bush last year. It’s led by Harry Pearce, chairman of Hughes Electronics, a subsidiary of General Motors, and James Johnson, vice chairman of Perseus, an investment banking firm.
Major high-tech companies, including Canon, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Pitney Bowes, Symbol Technologies and Stamps.com, are pushing the Postal Service to adopt intelligent mail systems. Each participates in a special committee on intelligent mail run by the Mailing Industry Task Force, a cross-industry group formed in 2001 with the support of Postmaster General John Potter.
The USPS has plenty of problems, and it's positively bleeding cash. Paying for a boondoggle of this magnitude probably isn't going to cure that situation. But, don't worry about your privacy in the short term -- this system would undoubtedly suck. However, once it gets running, we are all neck deep in the Surveillance Society. This has all the earmarks of a billion dollar rathole down which your tax dollars can flow (into the pockets of the above-named Task Force participants).
Besides, when was the last time the USPS really truly lost a piece of your first-class mail? How freaking "smart" does mail need to be? Maybe if I could send an email to all the junk mail headed my way and tell it to throw itself away, I'd go for this....