A U.S. Postal Service law enforcement program that has monitored social media for references to protests pushes the limits of the agency’s authority, raising questions about the future of these surveillance activities.
Tracking by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s online investigative program has coincided with Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in 2021, according to government reports.
In certain cases, it has exceeded the agency’s legal powers over postal crimes, according to a recent watchdog report by the USPS Office of Inspector General. The report calls for a review of the program by September.
Leaders of the Postal Inspection Service agreed to conduct a review but disputed the report’s main finding. The service argued that its online searches don’t have to be limited to terms that are directly related to postal crimes.