The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has announced plans to provide its law enforcement branch with access to its vast trove of customer data, raising concerns among privacy activists about the organization’s expanding surveillance powers.
The USPS came under scrutiny in 2021 when it was revealed that its law enforcement arm, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), was monitoring both left- and right-wing protest groups on social media. Multiple nonprofit organizations sued the USPS, seeking internal records about its surveillance program and questioning the legality of such activities.
Those lawsuits haven’t stopped the Postal Service from seeking additional surveillance powers. On Dec. 17, 2021, the USPS announced that it intended to provide customer data to USPIS investigators.
“USPIS will collect and aggregate eight data elements—Name, Address, 11-Digit Delivery Point ZIP Code (ZIP 11), Phone Number, Email Address, Tracking Number, IP Address, and Moniker,” the Postal Service stated.
According to the USPS, the influx of new data will allow postal inspectors to conduct “link analysis,” using data analytics to discover patterns and trends in criminal activity.