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(58,681 posts)
Mon Jun 24, 2024, 08:43 AM Jun 24

Law enforcement is spying on thousands of Americans' mail, records show [View all]

Last edited Mon Jun 24, 2024, 11:51 AM - Edit history (1)

Source: Washington Post

Law enforcement is spying on thousands of Americans' mail, records show

The Postal Service approves thousands of requests every year from police officers and federal agents seeking information from Americans' letters and packages.

By Drew Harwell
June 24, 2024 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

The U.S. Postal Service has shared information from thousands of Americans' letters and packages with law enforcement every year for the past decade, conveying the names, addresses and other details from the outside of boxes and envelopes without requiring a court order.

Postal inspectors say they fulfill such requests only when mail monitoring can help find a fugitive or investigate a crime. But a decade's worth of records, provided exclusively to The Washington Post in response to a congressional probe, show Postal Service officials have received more than 60,000 requests from federal agents and police officers since 2015, and that they rarely say no.

Each request can cover days or weeks of mail sent to or from a person or address, and 97 percent of the requests were approved, according to the data. Postal inspectors recorded more than 312,000 letters and packages between 2015 and 2023, the records show.

The surveillance technique, known as the mail covers program, has long been used by postal inspectors to help track down suspects or evidence. The practice is legal, and the inspectors said they share only what they can see on the outside of the mail; the Fourth Amendment requires them to get a warrant to peek inside.


By Drew Harwell
Drew Harwell is a reporter for The Washington Post covering technology. He was a member of an international reporting team that won a George Polk Award in 2021. Twitter https://twitter.com/drewharwell

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2024/06/24/post-office-mail-surveillance-law-enforcement/

I hope they like looking at utility bills.
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Sadly, this is nothing new. Ask any of us who were activists in the '60's and '70's. niyad Jun 24 #1
Not surprising. bucolic_frolic Jun 24 #2
It's like "Metadata" Kid Berwyn Jun 24 #3
No, it's not like Metadata. Metadata collection sifted through ALL online wire-transmitted information. This Martin68 Jun 24 #15
You missed the analogy. Kid Berwyn Jun 24 #16
So I get one statement from the Credit Union House of Roberts Jun 24 #4
Hey. I get offers to buy my house too. I thought I was special. jimfields33 Jun 24 #5
Guilty!! wolfie001 Jun 24 #8
When most correspondence was not electronic, co-activists, friends, addresses could be learned. quaint Jun 24 #6
This sounds similar to what the NSA does with cell phone and internet data hueymahl Jun 24 #7
I used to handle these law enforcement requests for the local Post Office. Midnight Writer Jun 24 #9
Thanks for sharing your experience. sybylla Jun 24 #10
a question if i may. does leo need search warrents to do this ? thanks AllaN01Bear Jun 24 #11
To actually monitor mail, yes. To confirm an address, no, though they need a written request Midnight Writer Jun 24 #12
thanks . AllaN01Bear Jun 24 #14
Gives a whole new meaning to missing, perhaps even some marked as time-sensitive pieces, that Backseat Driver Jun 24 #13
Probably helpful catching scammers who get their rubes to send bundles of gift cards or even cash prodigitalson Jun 24 #17
It's all part of the NSA's Total Junk Mail Awareness program. LudwigPastorius Jun 24 #18
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