La Poste swaps 2CVs for email

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The Independent Online

The French Post Office, which still delivers post using a fleet of yellow 2CVs, has finally joined the internet age. The state-run organisation is hoping to outdo its European counterparts by offering free permanent email accounts to the entire nation.

The French Post Office, which still delivers post using a fleet of yellow 2CVs, has finally joined the internet age. The state-run organisation is hoping to outdo its European counterparts by offering free permanent email accounts to the entire nation.

France, though a relative late-comer to the delights of the web, has been an instant convert. Since December the number of regular users, known as "internautes", has swollen by 41 per cent to around 6 million. But with many offices and homes without a PC, La Poste has stepped in to make sure everyone gets a chance to send and receive email.

The proposal, which should be fully in place by October, means that users can pick up emails from machines at any of France's 1,000 post offices. Martin Vial, director general of La Poste, hopes the service will give the email community the same sense of security and regulation offered by regular mail. Among a variety of optional extras, La Poste is offering a junk-email filtering service, which is expected to be popular.

In order to register, users fill in a questionnaire and walk out with an email address, but not necessarily your chosen one if you have a common name. For example, if your name is Jean Dupont, you will have to be satisfied with Jean. Dupont68@laposte.net. La Poste is not making rules about what name you register, and the battle is on to bag trendy-sounding user names.

La Poste is being firm, however, on the issue of obscene material. A 30-line clause lists the sort of messages or attachments which would cause your account to be closed. Also banned are any messages of a political nature: surveys, polls and "voting simulations" are off-limits.

France is not the first country to launch a national email service, although others have rejected the idea for being too costly.

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