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Issued @ Birth Government Email Address

Physical Addresses Aren't Really Cutting It
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It's come to my attention that mailing bits of paper around isn't a very satisfactory method of communication for many things. As a responsible and occasionally organized person, I dutifully went to all the various lengths necessary to inform the important parties of my recent address change. As such, over the last 2 years, the situation has improved to the point that nearly all the mail I am supposed to get now arrives.

Sadly, the previous two occupants of my house are not so responsible, and the volume of mail they receive erroneously has remained alarmingly constant. Things I've received include voting ballots, health insurance cards, 2 new phones, stimulus checks, many personal birthday cards, a replacement driver's license* & all the usual junk. We have many theories as to why no forwarding address is available** but our best guess is some long term foreign volunteering type gig.

Obviously, being able to communicate with your government & related agencies would occasionally be useful***. So, why not upon registration of birth/commencement of citizenship have a government issued email address for such vital administrative tasks?

The government should construct a high security web mail system where log in is made as secure as possible, name, DOB, social security number whatever else is appropriate. The list of domains from which the system could send/receive email from should be strictly white-listed. Limits on number of mails that can be sent in a given time period and an absolute limit of font styles should be tightly enforced. There should be no forwarding/bcc etc.

From this email, a citizen could for example, send their tax return, request a voting ballot, contact their government representative or perhaps inform their nearest embassy that they're chained to a desk in a world of warcraft sweatshop. The email would carry a significant amount of credibility vs most other mail & might be useful in reducing the amount of stuff I have to return to sender each month.

*I'm aware of what these things look like from outside, no federal crimes here

** A career in espionage for them, the tools for a career in espionage for me? Alien abduction? On the run from the law? On the run WITH the law in some witness protection type scenario?

*** Mostly for the government

bs0u0155, Nov 09 2020

[link]






       ....and it could be tattooed on your arm for permanent convenience....
xenzag, Nov 09 2020
  

       ...right above the RFID implant...
spidermother, Nov 09 2020
  

       // The list of domains from which the system could send/receive email from// ... would be defeated easily by spoofing, enabling vast dumps of spam, which everyone would have to read because they would conceal, once in a while, some important real communication (e.g., tax bill) which could get people in big trouble if ignored.
pertinax, Nov 10 2020
  

       We don't worry about social security numbers or driver's license numbers being emblazoned on our arms, why worry about this? Practical and efficient is the way to do small government with modern tech, and this seems like both to me.   

       Security could be a chore and beyond my expertise, but with the right sort of precautions, it could make sense.
RayfordSteele, Nov 10 2020
  

       //and an absolute limit of font styles should be tightly enforced//

I'm glad you've addressed the really important issues...

//log in is made as secure as possible, name, DOB, social security number whatever else is appropriate// - if it's an email system which a user has to log into with a password (note - none of the things you cite are secure, secret pieces of information) then it's the same as all other email systems. Thus, there's no point in having a Government-issued email address; you might as well use any commercial email provider.
hippo, Nov 10 2020
  

       //would be defeated easily by spoofing, enabling vast dumps of spam,//   

       Given that many of the features of email aren't needed, can't this be quite tightly controlled? For example the tax office provides the documents directly to the dept. that administers the email and they're deposited in the appropriate inboxes directly, i.e. this isn't completely open to the internet.   

       //We don't worry about social security numbers or driver's license numbers being emblazoned on our arms, why worry about this? //   

       Well, exactly. And the social security number is way out of it's depth in the modern world. It's only security feature is whether someone knows the number or not.   

       //if it's an email system which a user has to log into with a password (note - none of the things you cite are secure, secret pieces of information) then it's the same as all other email systems. Thus, there's no point in having a Government-issued email address;//   

       All the email has to do, is beat paper documents for security. At the moment, the only thing stopping someone stealing the tax documents on the way to your house is the envelope and the threat of it being a Federal crime. I'm sure a type of email system could be locked down enough to be better than an envelope. You can add the Federal crime level of deterrent on top if you like, although it gets tricky when it's globally available.
bs0u0155, Nov 10 2020
  

       But secure email only addresses an easy bit of the problem, the communication from a person asserting an identity to the provider of services. It doesn’t help you, for example, link an identity to a physical person.
hippo, Nov 10 2020
  

       A hash of your fingerprint / iris id?
RayfordSteele, Nov 10 2020
  

       You could do that - then everyone would have to have some trusted hardware to read the fingerprint/iris and sign it with Government keys, etc. Once you’ve done that, you could send this over Hotmail, there’d be no need for more security.

Banks do identity verification by doing PIN verification for online banking in the secure area on the bank card chip with the PIN sent to the card from a handheld dumb card reader. The code generated is a one-time output which can be sent over non-secure channels (I.e over the Internet). You could do exactly the same for identity verification to the government if everyone had government-issued ID cards
hippo, Nov 10 2020
  

       I could literally write a book on what is wrong with this idea (in fact, I am writing one). Just imagine that I'm holding up a copy of that famous document that begins "We hold these truths to be self evident..." and saying "Have you even READ this thing?"* The best summary of this that I can think of, at a conceptual level, is "Arbeit macht frei".   

       * Maybe my copy doesn't have the disclaimer:   

       We hold these truths to be self evident**   

       ** Unless your DBA has a 3-letter acronym, in which case you ARE God.
spidermother, Nov 10 2020
  

       My dad likes to say "I've made you a cup of coffee. If you don't like it, tip it down the sink". The following is offered in that spirit; if the cap fits, YMMV, serving suggestion only.   

       If there is a cloud of little thoughts buzzing around in your head saying things like "Wait a minite, is this really a good idea?" "What would it look like in the real world?" "Would anyone end up getting shot?" "Didn't they try something like this in Germany and Russia and China and Cambodia?" that may be cognative dissonnance.   

       I liken it to a game of sudoko. There's a meta-rule in sudoko - never guess. If you do, then every subsequent move will be based on that guess, and sooner or later, if the guess was incorrect, you will run into contradictions and be unable to find a consistent solution. The best way to fix the problem is to go right back to the beginning and start again, this time being more careful.   

       This is why I keep blathering on about ethical principles, and de-emphasising complex ideological structures that get wrapped up in titles such as "government". Most people (myself included) have had such ideologies installed in them; but since they didn't construct them from the ground up, but were handed them in compiled form, as it were, they lack access to the source code, and therefore can't properly debug.   

       There are some tough, but rewarding, things one can do. They include seriously contemplating one's own death, and seriously contemplating the possibility that one may actually not be a particularly nice person.   

       I'm going to add the mental exercise of taking everything one has been led to believe, putting them in a nice neat parcel tied with a bow, and putting them aside (in my head, this parcek sits over to the right, where it's mostly out of harms way, but I can still reach it when I want to look inside). This leaves something of a blank slate, on which one can ask questions such as "What is the best way to live my life? What are my ethical principles? Do I even have any? Should I get some? How could I be making the best use of my time right now?"   

       I can almost guarantee that the process will be highly disturbing and disorienting, and rather painful. This is probably why most people never do it. I can also almost guarantee that you will be glad you did it, and that you will feel more whole and self-complete. You will also very likely feel less depressed and anxious, and more capable and determined. I know I did. You will also very likely think "Why did I even need all that junk over there in the parcel in the first place?"
spidermother, Nov 10 2020
  

       With all due respect, [spidermother], we're all adults here, and most of us bloody smart and experienced ones that have challenged our assumptions and beliefs. If you're experiencing cognitive dissonance, it is in trying to explain basic concepts that we've all heard of and been through.
RayfordSteele, Nov 11 2020
  

       //they lack access to the source code//   

       That may have been the case once, but now all they lack is the motivation to spend many, many hours of their lives finding and reading it all.   

       Also, to understand the source code well, you need to be able to run at least parts of it through the debugger of life experience.
pertinax, Nov 11 2020
  

       You are quite right, the source code is available if one is willing to find it. What's the line from The Truman Show? It's impossible to hide the truth from someone who is determined to find it.   

       What I'm suggesting is that it might not be necessary to read the source code; if we're really pushing the analogy, it might be better to look around for some nice friendly open-source code, and set up a dual-boot system. This might be a rather deep analogy, because there is a fairly respectable theory that it is virtually impossible to change ones personality (probably for very good reasons - it would be rather like attempting brain surgery on oneself. "Now, I just make a small incision into the medulla oblongata and CUTTING! I'M CUTTING!), but it is possible to do something even more remarkable, which is to grow a new micro-personality, and kind of move into it as it grows.
spidermother, Nov 11 2020
  

       [RayfordSteele] You have apparently not read what I wrote. I said nothing to the effect that I am experiencing cognitive dissonnance. By definition, cognitive dissonance is something that one is not consciously aware of - at least not directly. If you insist on reading between the lines, please do a better job. If I implied anything, it's that I am NO LONGER experiencing cognitive dissonnance.   

       You also seem to have missed how extremely careful I am being not to make any assertions about anyone else; I'm descrbing my own subjective experience.   

       Likewise, I'm not trying to explain basic concepts. I'm suggesting that there may still be some unchallenged assumptions.   

       //If you're experiencing cognitive dissonance, it is in trying to explain basic concepts that we've all heard of and been through.// That is precisely the kind of thinking that only reinforces unquestioned assumptions - the unquestioned assumption that there are no unquestioned assumptions!   

       I don't mind going out on a limb. That way, if you want to shoot me down, at least you can shoot me down on what I'm actually saying. Here goes. //The government should construct a high security web mail system// is an example of a statement that contains unquestioned assumptions, and is in fact entirely empty of any meaning. Why? Because "The government" is not a real thing. It is just an incorrect instantiation of an abstraction, and therefore is not capable of either morality ("should") or agency ("construct"). The technical name for treating an abstraction as if it were a real thing is reification, and it tends to lead to fallacies.
spidermother, Nov 11 2020
  

       you wrote:   

       //With all due respect, [spidermother], we're all adults here, and most of us bloody smart and experienced ones that have challenged our assumptions and beliefs. If you're experiencing cognitive dissonance, it is in trying to explain basic concepts that we've all heard of and been through.//   

       I don't want to get into a tiff here, so I'll offer you a demurrer. By that I mean that for the sake of a peaceful resolution, I will treat your statement as true; but I reserve the right to challenge its implications.   

       I'll go one further, and exclude myself from being adult, smart, etc. After all, when my friend told me the title of his postdoctoral maths thesis, he might as well have said "Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb manifold rhubarb custard rhubab". I read Kreyszig. A bit. But it makes my head hurt. So there are certainly vast areas in which I'm not bloody smart and experienced.   

       Given that, is it possible that all of the bloody smart and experienced (except possibly [spidermother]) halfbakers here can make up their own minds as to whether I have anything of value to say?
spidermother, Nov 11 2020
  

       //There's a meta-rule in sudoko - never guess. If you do, then every subsequent move will be based on that guess, and sooner or later, if the guess was incorrect, you will run into contradictions and be unable to find a consistent solution//   

       Wait - these is a right and a wrong way to fill those in? I thought you just had to write a number into every square.
pocmloc, Nov 11 2020
  

       [pocmloc] That way is fine as long as you still remember to shout Bingo!
spidermother, Nov 11 2020
  

       I did read what you wrote. And it was my conclusion that you were experiencing some cognitive dissonance in that your lengthy explanation on cognitive dissonance felt rather like being talked down to. That was my simple point.   

       Governments exist in the same way that corporations and organizations and even forests exist as at least the sum of their trees. Getting caught up in whether bodiless sums of organized parts that are called that for purpose of clarity and simplicity can act is in my mind simply getting lost in what I suspect the great MaxwellBuchanan would describe as philosophy.   

       Governments exist because the need for social contracts exist. We can try and get along without enforcing social contracts for the sake of the lack of trust of the enforcer, which is what I suspect is the root of most libertarian arguments, but it doesn't ever seem to end well. So we deal with the enforcer and try our best to keep it in check by subjecting it to boundaries prescribed by imperfect but well-thought-out founding documents that every once in a great year need updating themselves. That's the best we can do.   

       It seems to me that progress in America is held back by our half-functioning systems that are forever compromises with people demanding their freedom from government intrusion into their lives, only to realize too late that more pragmatic cultures have found greater freedom due to greater possibilities by the advancements that their discovered efficiencies allow.   

       example: Fat American with diabetes: "No no no! You can't give me state-run healthcare! I have the freedom to decide my health! And I choose to have my employer, who has me sit pushing buttons all day, decide the cheapest plan for me for this year, and it'll be a different one next year as the costs ratchet up from my worsening condition!"   

       Me: "Great, now let me see you try and run a mile."   

       Meanwhile in another country where healthcare is more sorted and less of an issue:   

       "Shall I jog over to the corner market for milk or shall I spend the morning on my research paper?"   

       If freedom exists but is never actually utilized to do anything, you're in the same position as a slave--still stuck in the mud, just without the chains.
RayfordSteele, Nov 11 2020
  
      
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