Dr. Paul and Bipartisan Senators Call for Reform to Surveillance of Americans’ Letters and Packages
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) led a group of six bipartisan senators in calling for stronger protections for the privacy of Americans’ letters and packages, in a letter to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). Dr. Paul is ranking member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee which has jurisdiction over USPIS and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
USPIS regularly tracks the senders and recipients of letters and packages and sends that information to law-enforcement agencies, without any court oversight. This method of government surveillance is known as “mail covers.”
“While mail covers do not reveal the contents of correspondence, they can reveal deeply personal information about Americans’ political leanings, religious beliefs, or causes they support,” the senators wrote. “Consequently, surveillance of this information does not just threaten Americans’ privacy, but their First Amendment rights to freely associate with political or religious organizations or peacefully assemble without the government watching.”
The Postal Inspection Service has not reported the number of mail records it requests since 2014, or any information about how many letters and packages are searched. A 2014 audit by the Office of Inspector General showed government agencies requested more than 100,000 mail records between 2010 and 2014.