KTHR News Radio: U.S. Postal Inspection Service Expands Surveillance on Customers

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Privacy activists are asking the U.S. Postal Service’s law enforcement arm to reconsider a plan to collect customer data.

Beginning January 18. the Postal Inspection Service would collect and piece together eight data elements.

“They’d be able to see that I was using the tracking service. They will be able to see my home address, my email address, phone number, as well as my IP address, so the identifier for my computer,” says Jake Wiener, law fellow with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

All of which, he argues, typically needs a warrant if it were UPS or FedEx.

“If they knew this computer had been involved in something they were investigating, they would now be able to tie it to you, which would otherwise be more difficult for them.”

“But it’s not necessarily a direct hole into them seeing what you’re doing.” 

Wiener says it’s time Congress steps in.

“They have let the Postal Inspection Service skate without a lot of oversight and they can rein in a lot of what the Inspection Service does and cabin them to authorities that they’re granted under federal law.”

The Postal Service wants the legal challenge thrown out. The judge has yet to make a ruling.

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