U.S. Postal Service Spied on Americans, Details Reveal

U.S. Postal Service Spied on Americans, Details Reveal

(UnitedReader.com) – One doesn’t normally associate the United States Postal Service (USPS) with espionage of any sort. Normally people think of mail trucks with their sliding doors and red, white, and blue paint job. However, following the January 6 riot at the nation’s capital, USPS inspectors started working with law enforcement officials investigating events leading up to that incident.

Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP)

Just days after the events at the U.S. Capitol unfolded, the postal service’s little-known iCOP unit began providing information to authorities on how to see deleted social media posts. As it turns out, iCOP’s primary function is to track and collect posts Americans put on social media.

Not many Americans realize that their friendly mail carrier is also spying on them. The actions of iCOP bring into question just how far away from the branch’s mission of keeping deliverers safe the program has gone.

Cracking Down on Protests

On March 20, 2021, groups had planned to protest all over the world in coordination with events for a World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy. The organizers shared information about the upcoming event with each other using social media accounts. As a result, iCOP agents obtained information regarding the times and locations for the protests and passed that information along to officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a bulletin.

The protests reportedly raised alarm bells within iCOP units because some would-be participants indicated an interest in turning the peaceful protest violent on Parler, a free-speech alternative to Twitter. The bulletin sent out by iCOP added that there was no information on whether the threats were legitimate.

Monitoring Americans

The government’s ongoing surveillance of social media in America is a topic of much debate. Facebook and Parler have given law enforcement the opportunity to find and arrest the people responsible for the Capitol Building riot. However, that same data gathering has led to concerns over whether the government is monitoring peaceful protestors and people involved with First Amendment advocacy.

Veering Off Course

iCOP is designed to prevent the misuse of the postal service online. Why the USPS law enforcement arm is looking into the social media accounts, which have little to do with mail, remains a mystery. Deputy director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice, Rachel Levison-Waldman, wants to know why.

Among other concerns, Levison-Waldman has raised serious questions about the postal service’s legal authority to spy on law-abiding citizens. As she recently pointed out, the commission of crimes using the internet falls under the FBI’s jurisdiction, not that of USPS. She noted that if most of these people were only expressing their opinions and being peaceful, their monitoring should draw significant constitutional concern.

Copyright 2021, UnitedReader.com