The Toronto Sun
Wednesday, April 21, 1999

Cyberspace tax e-mail is nothing but a hoax

by Ian Harvey

Netizens! Put down your weapons.

For the past week Canadian Internet users have been circulating an e-mail warning of yet another dastardly government plot to introduce a tax into cyberspace.

Under the apparent auspices of a Toronto law firm it warns, "The Government of Canada is attempting to quietly push through legislation that will affect your use of the Internet. Under proposed legislation Canada Post will be attempting to bill e-mail users out of alternate postage fees."

It cites a bogus Bill 602P and Richard Stepp QC of Toronto as the white knight working to save us from a tax that could add $180 a year to the average Netizen's costs.

It's all rather noble, except for one thing.

There is no truth to it. Any of it.

There no Richard Stepp, no Bill 602P, no committee, no proposal driven by Canada Post.

It's a hoax. A pretty good one, but a hoax nonetheless.

And a gag which fooled some pretty high-profile people, among them corporate public relations people and some journalists who were busily checking facts for a page one story.

The big hole in the story, of course, is that anyone wanting to avoid the tax could simply set up a free mail account with an American site such as Hotmail.

But it was good try, whoever you are.

Take a bow.

Copyright © 1999 by The Toronto Sun. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.