Check your inbox: Big Brother is emailing you

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The Independent Online

Singapore will give all citizens, foreign residents and businesses an email address to receive bills and other correspondence from the government, officials said Tuesday.

Called "OneInbox," the service will be launched in 2012 in the high-tech city-state, which now has five million residents including a million foreigners who enjoy nearly universal computer access.

Recipients can opt to get SMS alerts when a message is sent.

"It's your own personal correspondence with the government," a spokeswoman from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) said.

A fact sheet issued by the IDA said "OneInbox is expected to bring greater convenience to individuals and businesses, by providing a one-stop access to all correspondence from government agencies in place of hard copy letters."

"Through the integration of the OneInbox with e-services of government agencies, it will also allow individuals and businesses to perform transactions with the government immediately upon receiving the electronic correspondence."

The service will be confidential and secure, and users can link their OneInbox accounts to their personal emails and mobile phone numbers, the literature said.

Government agencies will be able to confirm receipt of correspondence and bills paid.

However, users will not be able to tap their OneInbox accounts for personal purposes, such as sending casual emails to friends, an IDA spokeswoman said.

Many government transactions, including renewal of residency permits and payment of traffic fines, can now be done online in Singapore, where the government estimates 83 percent of people have a computer at home and Internet cafes are widespread.