By now, millions of Americans have heard the maddening and mystifying news: the United States Postal Service (USPS) is snooping on you. That’s right, America’s mail carrier has been compiling social media posts talking about protests and posting screenshots in intelligence bulletins.
Just as quickly as these revelations made their way across the media, the story withered on the vine as attention shifted elsewhere. Yet Postal Watergate (Postalgate) is only the tip of the iceberg for an agency shrouded in secrecy. The USPS refuses to open their books for independent financial analysis. It won’t even release basic information about package deliveries, even tire purchases.
It’s time for lawmakers to demand full transparency from the struggling agency.
When Yahoo News reported in April that the USPS was “quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests,” the response was outrage. Yet despite the outcry, the agency will continue running the program, which it confusingly claims is not in fact a “program” because it is “incident-related.” Semantics aside, it’s clear that the USPS is intent on having its own surveillance program under wraps instead of, say, requesting timely, relevant intelligence from other agencies such as the FBI.