Feds Are Looking Through Thousands Of Americans’ Mail Each Year

(RepublicanReport.org) – The federal government has the right to monitor Americans’ activities if it determines there is a risk to national security. Over the past few years, it has come under scrutiny for its practices in collecting data about citizens both through cell phones and social media. Now, it has come to light that federal authorities are regularly requesting the USPS aid them in gathering information from their mail.

What the Requests Entail

According to The Washington Post, which reported on the mail covers program, law enforcement agencies can request information about a person’s mail for days or weeks without the need for a warrant. This information could include any data available on the surface of a letter or package. If the agency wants to look inside the mail, it needs to provide the United States Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the USPS, with a search warrant.

However, based on data revealed in the report, the USPS has approved 97% of the more than 60,000 requests it received between 2015 and 2023, which is around 6,700 requests per year. That comes out to approximately 312,000 pieces of mail on which it recorded data and provided the information to authorities.

Before releasing the data to The Washington Post, the agency rarely released any data about its program, citing concerns that it would tip criminals off and decrease the program’s effectiveness. That didn’t stop lawmakers from trying to convince the USPS to change its course.

Lawmakers Try to Change Policy

Last year, a group of bipartisan lawmakers wrote to the Chief Postal Inspector, Gary Barksdale, in hopes of changing the policy that they say sacrifices Americans’ First Amendment and privacy. They asked Barksdale to provide more information on the program and asked if the law enforcement arm had evaluated its policies in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Carpenter v. United States decision, in which it ruled that “Americans can have a reasonable expectation of privacy in some information that is revealed to third parties.”

Barksdale replied to the letter within a month, noting that the mail covers program isn’t a “large-scale” operation by any means and that information provided to law enforcement was only made in the eventuality that it was used to aid in capturing a fugitive or for investigative purposes.

This year, the USPIS said it has no intention of changing its policy regarding the program and that typically, the inspectors record data from about 35,000 pieces of mail each year.

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