This Weird Secret Program Inside the USPS is Disturbing

In the dystopian novel 1984, the totalitarian government is known as “Big Brother.”

You know the saying, “Big Brother is watching you?”

Fast forward to 2021…

Big Post Office is watching you.

What?

USPS Inspectors are Monitoring Americans’ Social Media Activity

It turns out that the United States Postal Service is quietly running a program that aims to track and collect Americans’ social media posts.

Yahoo News broke this story:

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.

“Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021,” says the March 16 government bulletin, marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security’s fusion centers. “Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.”

A number of groups were expected to gather in cities around the globe on March 20 as part of a World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, to protest everything from lockdown measures to 5G. “Parler users have commented about their intent to use the rallies to engage in violence. Image 3 on the right is a screenshot from Parler indicating two users discussing the event as an opportunity to engage in a ‘fight’ and to ‘do serious damage,’” says the bulletin.

“No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats,” it adds.

Yahoo News

Many legal and constitutional scholars are baffled and a bit horrified by the discovery of this program.

Some notable quotes from the experts:

“It’s a mystery. I don’t understand why the government would go to the Postal Service for examining the internet for security issues.” – Geoffrey Stone, University of Chicago law professor

Yahoo news

“This seems a little bizarre. Based on the 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 goin 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.” – Rachel Levinson-Waldman, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s liberty and national security program.

Yahoo News

Levinson-Waldman went on to question the legal authority of the Postal Service to monitor social media activity: “If the individuals they’re monitoring are carrying out or planning criminal activity, that should be the purview of the FBI. If they’re simply engaging in lawfully protected speech, even if it’s odious or objectionable, then monitoring them on that basis raises serious constitutional concerns.”

The Department of Homeland Security is so large now with several other sub agencies under their umbrella, it’s puzzling why the Post Office would be assigned the task of monitoring social media?

Plus, this covert program raises many troubling civil liberties and privacy questions.

What do you think? Let us know below.