The Government is Always Watching: USPS Monitoring Americans' Social Media Posts, Report

Nick Kangadis | April 22, 2021
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Whether it’s “The Patriot Act” or NSA spying, everything Americans do publicly is most likely known by the federal government. Heck, they might even know about people than the people do about themselves.

Yahoo! News is reporting that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been spying on Americans’ social media posts as part of a “covert” “surveillance effort.”

According to the Yahoo! News report:

The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News.

The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as “inflammatory” postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.

The document in question was published on March 16, 2021 as a “Situational Awareness Bulletin” for the United States Postal Inspection Service.  This particular bulletin wrote about “March 20: International Day of Protests,” but specifically singled out “right-wing leaning” social media platforms Parler and Telegram in its introductory paragraph.

University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone call the practice “a mystery.”

“It’s a mystery,” Stone said. “I don’t understand why the government would go to the Postal Service for examining the internet for security issues.”

The Brennan Center for Justice's deputy director of their liberty and national security program Rachel Levinson-Waldman referred to the USPS’ actions as “bizarre.”

“This seems a little bizarre,” said Levinson-Waldman. “Based on the very minimal information that’s available online, it appears that [iCOP] is meant to root out misuse of the postal system by online actors, which doesn’t seem to encompass what’s going on here. It’s not at all clear why their mandate would include monitoring of social media that’s unrelated to use of the postal system.”

Probably because other agencies are busy monitoring Americans in other ways or more stringent ways that we the people don’t know about. A lot of agencies most likely do a lot of things that Americans aren’t privileged enough to know.

H/T: The Federalist