How police use the mail to spy on you: 60,000 cases in last decade with little pushback

how police use the mail to spy on you: 60,000 cases in last decade with little pushback

postal-service-trump-democrats.jpg

In the last decade, the US Postal Surface has received more than 60,000 requests from law enforcement for information based on inspecting people’s mail, a congressional probe found, with the agency granting virtually all of them.

Since 2015 alone, the USPS has granted 97 percent of requests from agencies like the IRS, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, sharing information gleaned from the outside of mail like names and addresses in a practice known as mail cover.

Though the practice is legal, it has come in for criticism from a group of US senators, whose questions to the USPS in 2023 prompted the disclosure of the recent mail cover data, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

“These new statistics show that thousands of Americans are subjected to warrantless surveillance each year and that the Postal Inspection Service rubber stamps practically all of the requests they receive,” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon told the paper, arguing the USPS was “refusing to raise its standards and require law enforcement agencies monitoring the outside of Americans’ mail to get a court order, which is already required to monitor emails and texts.”

In response to a May 2023 letter from Wyden and a group seven other senators, USPS chief postal inspector Gary Barksdale cited jurisprudence dating back to the 1870s, when the US Supreme Court found, as part of a case about lotteries operating via mail, that Americans were entitled to an expectation of privacy for what’s inside their letters, information that requires a warrant to access.

What’s on the outside, on the other hand, is fair game, Barksdale said.

“There is no reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to information contained on the outside of mail matter,” he wrote.

The mail inspection efforts aren’t as controversial as another aspect of US law enforcement information gathering that was extended this year.

In April, Joe Biden reauthorized Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows law enforcement to gather information without a warrant from foreigners who are overseas, including their communications with Americans stationed in the US.

The 2008 law has been criticized from both the right and left as a means of warrantless surveillance of Americans.

The Independent is the world’s most free-thinking news brand, providing global news, commentary and analysis for the independently-minded. We have grown a huge, global readership of independently minded individuals, who value our trusted voice and commitment to positive change. Our mission, making change happen, has never been as important as it is today.

OTHER NEWS

39 minutes ago

Kaizer Chiefs: Nasreddine Nabi's side suffer huge blow over their interest in signing Europe-based Bafana star this summer

39 minutes ago

Paris 2024 schedule Day 2: Women's football, rugby sevens, archery and handball

39 minutes ago

SA’s racial tensions | Pretoria Girls High staff investigated

39 minutes ago

Olympic VAR brought Argentina and Morocco back to play 3 minutes after it overturned a tying goal hours later

40 minutes ago

Oregon fire is the largest burning in the US. Thunderstorms and high winds are exacerbating it

40 minutes ago

Wind power can be a major source of tax revenue, but officials struggle to get communities on board

40 minutes ago

Africa's demand for cooling systems is expanding. But regulating the industry is a struggle

40 minutes ago

Israeli Cyber Giant Names Ex-IDF Commander as CEO

42 minutes ago

Jennifer Aniston Rips Trump VP Pick J.D. Vance For “Childless Cat Lady” Remarks

45 minutes ago

Starmer’s first PMQs was a show of unity – but it won’t last

45 minutes ago

4 Reasons Kamala Harris Could Be Good for Your Social Security Check

45 minutes ago

'Lifelong Republican' ex-GA lieutenant gov. endorses Kamala Harris

45 minutes ago

Video: Kylie Jenner calls Nobu chefs to her $36 million mansion for reality show dinner - but one major topic is totally off-limits

45 minutes ago

Video: King's day of pomp and pageantry: Charles dons his royal regalia for state opening of Parliament filled with gold, grandeur and 500 years of tradition - with Queen Camilla by his side

45 minutes ago

Video: So what is Kim Kardashian's biological age? Reality star 'livid' by results as family share details of DNA tests… and Kris Jenner is furious too

45 minutes ago

Video: Today show host Karl Stefanovic says Brisbane needs to 'get their act together' for the 2032 Olympic Games

45 minutes ago

Video: Melbourne dad is allegedly attacked by thief after trying to get back his stolen car

45 minutes ago

Video: Shocking decline in looks of 'murderer' Law & Order star as he makes dramatic plea at his latest court appearance

45 minutes ago

Kendall Jenner reveals her hopes for the next decade and insists she 'would love' to be a mother

45 minutes ago

Poh Ling Yeow: MasterChef judge’s incredible response to ex-husband Jono Bennett moving on with best friend

45 minutes ago

3 ASX All Ordinaries shares smashing multi-year highs while the market dives

45 minutes ago

Goose Island Announces 2024 Bourbon County Brand Stout Variants

45 minutes ago

Band opened for Foo Fighters, but can't make rock pay

45 minutes ago

House votes to form task force to investigate shooting at Trump rally, recommend legislative fixes

45 minutes ago

CrowdStrike reveals what went wrong — and it's pretty much what we expected

45 minutes ago

Nestory Irankunda at Bayern Munich updates: Australia football wonderkid scores in friendly match

45 minutes ago

Uzbekistan loses the match but wins over crowd as soccer competition kicks off Paris Olympics

45 minutes ago

Kamala Harris' First Rally Fact-Checked

45 minutes ago

'A Nonsense Question!' James Cleverly Refuses To Say If He Would Vote For Trump

48 minutes ago

Amari Cooper's New Deal Creates Questions About Browns' Long-Term Strategy

48 minutes ago

‘Disappointing’: New report which cast doubt on Australia’s nuclear plan has ‘problems’

48 minutes ago

In a reversal, Georgia now says districts can use state funding to teach AP Black studies classes

51 minutes ago

India and UK launch tech initiative as new British foreign minister makes his first official visit

53 minutes ago

Jennifer Aniston calls out JD Vance with message on her IVF journey

59 minutes ago

Ten Hag gunning for Man Utd to sign Bundesliga winner who can help expensive flop shine

59 minutes ago

The Messi effect: MLS celebrates record All-Star Game attendance, rising engagement

59 minutes ago

Olympics-Canadian coach, analyst kicked out of Games after drone incident

59 minutes ago

Eluned Morgan becomes first woman to lead Welsh Labour

59 minutes ago

Manchester United forward left out of tour squad ahead of League One loan switch

59 minutes ago

Van der Poel sets sights on Olympic glory: "That worked very well last year too"