Law enforcement spies on thousands of Americans' mail: WP-Xinhua

Law enforcement spies on thousands of Americans' mail: WP

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-06-24 22:08:45

NEW YORK, June 24 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Postal Service has shared information from thousands of Americans' letters and packages with law enforcement every year for the past decade, conveying the names, addresses and other details from the outside of boxes and envelopes without requiring a court order, The Washington Post (WP) reported on Monday.

"Postal inspectors say they fulfill such requests only when mail monitoring can help find a fugitive or investigate a crime," but a decade's worth of records "show Postal Service officials have received more than 60,000 requests from federal agents and police officers since 2015, and that they rarely say no."

Each request can cover days or weeks of mail sent to or from a person or address, and 97 percent of the requests were approved, according to the data procured by the newspaper. Postal inspectors recorded more than 312,000 letters and packages between 2015 and 2023.

The mail covers program, a legal surveillance technique used by postal inspectors, tracks suspects or evidence by examining the outside of mail. Inspectors need a warrant to look inside.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, however, has traditionally declined to disclose the frequency of such requests, citing concerns about alerting criminals.

A 2015 audit revealed that over four years, the agency approved more than 158,000 requests from law enforcement, including from the IRS, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security.