If the government is listening into Americans’ cellphone calls and harvesting mega-information from citizens using the Internet, then certainly people’s mail wouldn’t be out of bounds for sanctioned snooping.
The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act reports that the U.S. Postal Service approved close to 50,000 requests in 2013 to secretly monitor the mail of everyday people in this country for use in criminal and national security investigations. That’s on top of official groups such as the National Security Agency going through people’s library, Internet and phone use for “security reasons.”
What would Elvis say? Oh, wrong mail.
The mail surveillance is more than a century old. At the request of state or federal officials, postal workers record names, return addresses and any other information from the outside of letters and packages before they are delivered to a person’s residence or business. Opening any mail is supposed to require a warrant.
In the pre-smartphone, pre-Internet, pre-ubiquitous surveillance camera era, the covert mail snooping practice probably provided investigators with a lot more information than it does today. More people wrote letters and sent cards to friends, families and associates 20 years ago instead of texting, calling, emailing and using social media.
Edward Snowden has helped make people aware that in this post-Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack world, law enforcement officials have all avenues of snooping on folks covered at home and abroad. Big Brother truly is listening, watching, reading and taking notes, making security these last 13 years one of America’s growth industries.