According to an unknown source the U.S. Postal Service is running a secret program which tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests.
This intrusive surveillance program is known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program.
It has not previously been made public.
The spy work involves dedicated analysts trawling through social media sites looking for any “inflammatory” postings.
Whenever such information is identified it is then shared with various agencies within the US government.
Here’s an example.
On March 21 2021 a number of groups were expected to gather in cities around the world as part of a Global Rally for Freedom and Democracy.
These demo’s would be protesting about anything from lockdown measures to 5G.
However,on March 16 2021 an internal government document, marked law enforcement/sensitive, was distributed to the Department of Homeland Security’s fusion centres.
The document said:
“Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021.
Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.
Parler users have commented about their intent to use the rallies to engage in violence. Image 3 on the right is a screenshot from Parler indicating two users discussing the event as an opportunity to engage in a ‘fight’ and to do serious damage.
No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats.
iCOP analysts are currently monitoring these social media channels for any potential threats stemming from the scheduled protests and will disseminate intelligence updates as needed.”
The document also included screenshots of posts from Facebook, Telegram and other social media sites.
Civil Liberty Concerns
Following a rise in domestic unrest the US government’s monitoring of their citizen’s social media posts has become the subject of intense debate both inside and outside the government.
The collection of such data has sparked growing concerns about how the US government is also surveilling peaceful protesters and those engaged in the protection of their First Amendment rights.
It is therefore not surprising that civil liberty and legal experts have expressed alarm at the US post office’s surveillance program.
University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey R Stone, whom President Barack Obama appointed to review the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks said:
“It’s a mystery, I don’t understand why the government would go to the Postal Service for examining the internet for security issues.
The deputy director of the Brennan Centre for Justice’s liberty and national security program Rachel Levinson-Waldman agreed saying:
“This seems a little bizarre. Based on the very minimal information that’s available online, it appears that iCOP is meant to root out misuse of the postal system by online actors, which doesn’t seem to encompass what’s going on here.
It’s not at all clear why their mandate would include monitoring of social media that’s unrelated to use of the postal system.”
Why the US post office has moved into social media surveillance, (which has nothing to do with delivering letters) remains unclear.
Levinson-Waldman also questioned the legal authority of the Postal Service to monitor US citizen’s social media activity.
“If the individuals they’re monitoring are carrying out or planning criminal activity, that should be the purview of the FBI. If they’re simply engaging in lawfully protected speech, even if it’s odious or objectionable, then monitoring them on that basis raises serious constitutional concerns.”
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service have since provided a very generalised statement justifying its authorities.
The statement read:
“ The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the primary law enforcement, crime prevention, and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service. As such, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has federal law enforcement officers, Postal Inspectors, who enforce approximately 200 federal laws to achieve the agency’s mission: protect the U.S. Postal Service and its employees, infrastructure, and customers; enforce the laws that defend the nation’s mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensure public trust in the mail.
The Internet Covert Operations Program is a function within the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which assesses threats to Postal Service employees and its infrastructure by monitoring publicly available open source information.
Additionally, the Inspection Service collaborates with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to proactively identify and assess potential threats to the Postal Service, its employees and customers, and its overall mail processing and transportation network.
In order to preserve operational effectiveness, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service does not discuss its protocols, investigative methods, or tools.”
The US Postal Service isn’t the only part of the US government’s expansion into the monitoring of social media.
DHS officials have spoken about their department’s involvement in the monitoring of social media platforms for the purposes of preventing domestic terrorism.
A DHS official said:
“We know that this threat is fuelled mainly by false narratives, conspiracy theories and extremist rhetoric read through social media and other online platforms.
And that’s why we’re kicking off engagement directly with social media companies.
DHS is coordinating with civil rights and civil liberties colleagues, as well as our private colleagues, to ensure that everything we’re doing is being done responsibly and in line with civil rights and civil liberties and individual privacy.”
Stone, the University of Chicago law professor, has questioned why the US post office has been tasked with identifying potential violent protesters, as this has nothing to do with their primary role.. delivering letters!
“I just don’t think the Postal Service has the degree of sophistication that you would want if you were dealing with national security issues of this sort.
That part is puzzling. There are so many other federal agencies that could do this, I don’t understand why the post office would be doing it.
There is no need for the post office to do it – you’ve got FBI, Homeland Security and so on, so I don’t know why the post office is doing this.”
The US Government IS spying on you.
In reality, the US government is spying on everyone’s digital communications.
They are spying on people via their cell phones and have the ability to remotely turn on cameras and microphones even when the phone is off.
This is because the NSA has had its spy-code inserted into the Android’s operating system. This means they can hack into three-quarters of the world’s smart phones.
And what about Google? They know just about every Wi-Fi password on the planet and that means that the NSA do too, since Google routinely share data with them.
Then there are the spying programs conducted by the social media platforms. For info read this RiP article.
To close Anonymous would like to give you a song sung by those wonderful MonaLisa Twins.
Ironically it’s called Please Mr Postman.
Special thanks to: Unknown Source