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Postal inspectors’ digital intelligence team sometimes acted outside of legal authorities, report says

March 30, 2022
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An internet intelligence and analytics support team for postal inspectors overstepped its legal authority in some cases, according to the inspector general for the U.S. Postal Service.

The Analytics Team, known until April 2021 as the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP), occasionally used open-source intelligence tools beyond the Postal Inspection Service’s legal authorities, and its record-keeping about some of that activity was inadequate, according to the March 25 report by the Office of the Inspector General for the USPS.

As part of their work assisting postal inspectors, the analysts conducted “proactive searches” for publicly available information online that could help root out postal crimes, the report says, but in some cases they used keywords that did not have a “postal nexus” — that is, “an identified connection to the mail, postal crimes, or the security of Postal Service facilities or personnel.”

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