Consumers Deserve Paper Option in Federal Government Policies

Paper and digital formats work together to deliver information to consumers and citizens. In the private sector, many companies use both forms to most effectively reach the greatest number of people.

Unfortunately, government agencies are increasingly denying individuals’ access to paper-based versions of important information and services – often without Congressional oversight or public input.

AF&PA believes the public should be able to choose how they receive information and services from the government and not be forced into a digital-only delivery option.

The rush to digitize leaves many Americans without a viable option, including:

  • Millions in rural communities and/or low-income households who lack easy broadband access.
  • 45 percent of seniors who do not own a computer and 30 percent of citizens who do not have online access at home.
  • Those who lack computer skills, have concerns about online security, and prefer paper documentation of transactions.

Government agencies that consider reducing or eliminating paper options should:

  • Conduct an analysis of the costs and benefits to society and government.
  • Provide adequate public notice to affected groups, allow ample opportunity to provide input and take public comments into account before making a final decision.
  • Put safeguards in place to protect personal information from identity theft or fraud.
  • Not impose discriminatory fees for access to paper information or services.
  • Not require the public to “opt-in” to continue receiving paper, or use “implied consent” (i.e. requires no action by the consumer) as permission to switch information delivery from paper to digital format.

Related: Printing and Writing Paper