Gov’t to roll out ‘safer’ e-mail system in October

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Gov’t to roll out ‘safer’ e-mail system in October

Korea is introducing a new kind of registered e-mail account next month featuring hashes instead of the at sign for the first time in the world, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said yesterday.

E-mail addresses using “#” instead of “@” will enable users to check if their e-mails have been sent, delivered and opened. The ministry said users will be given a choice of several words that can follow the “#” sign, but these have yet to be determined.

The ministry said it will designate a service provider next month so individuals and corporations can use the new accounts from October. From that month, applicants will be able to register accounts at www.npost.kr, it added.

Registration is free of charge for individuals but not for companies, with the sum to be decided next month. Both can receive e-mails for free, but they will have to pay to send them.

As the new system guarantees the safe delivery of e-mails, the ministry said it will be a preferred option for those sending important documents such as legal contracts and college applications.

It will also make it easier for overseas Koreans to receive official documents from local government offices. Previously, family members residing in Korea had to visit the relevant office to get the necessary certificates issued, but soon they can be e-mailed directly to Korean embassies.

Although the new service has not yet been officially launched, it has been used between government offices since last month.

The ministry expects to save around 310 billion won ($272.9 million) a year by obviating the need for paper documents to be sent overseas.

It also forecasts that a new cottage industry worth of 70 billion won a year will be created as demand for software and related devices that enable the secure online delivery of e-documents rises.

Although Korea established a global ISO standard for hash e-mail in April, other countries have not yet shown much interest in using the service.

“We suggested that China and Japan also adopt the service, but as it has not yet been commercialized in Korea, other countries want to wait and see how it takes off here first,” said Lim Seong-min, an official at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy’s software division.

Lim said early surveys suggest 80 percent of individuals and most corporations will be using the service within five years.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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