Pundit says USPS snooping accelerates need for privatization

Neocon pundit and Cornell professor Rick Geddes has been warning of the imminent demise of the US Postal Service for decades. His solution, of course, is privatization. Now Geddes says that the postal service’s widespread snooping on Americans’ mail increases the need to privatize. His office issued this press release:

Rick Geddes, expert on the U.S. Postal Service and Cornell University professor of Policy Analysis and Management, says that recent revelations about the postal service tracking the mail of citizens – sometimes without proper authorization – only accelerates the need for major postal reform.

Geddes says:

“Media reports about the U.S. Postal Service’s mail surveillance program, called mail covers, is decades old. It allows the Postal Inspection Service, at the request of state or federal law enforcement agencies, to direct postal workers to record the names, return addresses, and any other pertinent information from the outside of letters and addresses prior to their delivery.

“It does not allow for the opening of mail without a warrant. Now, there are media reports that the use of the mail covers program is much more widespread than previously thought, fueling concerns about privacy.

“This revelation raises an important issue for the Postal Service, since it has long touted the ‘sanctity of the mail’ as a major contributor to the value of sending mail physically through its system. Indeed, the Office of the Inspector General of the Postal Service stresses that the sanctity of the mail stems from the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects citizens’ against unreasonable search and seizure.

“In an economic environment of rapidly falling mail volume due to rising use of electronic communications alternatives, this development is likely to cause more rapid declines in the Postal Service’s already tenuous fiscal condition. It will thus accelerate the need for major postal reform.”

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  • Mark Jamison

    What folks should really be concerned about is the potential for abuse with IMb. IMb collects tremendous amounts of information in usable formats. That probably has some implications for NSA spying but of greater concern should be the potential for commercial abuse. A fully privatized Postal Service without oversight or transparency would likely be far more dangerous than the current system which allows for at least the possibility of transparency.
    What are the chances that the recent OIG report on Mail Covers would even exist in a privatized system?
    Companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon collect tremendous amounts of information on consumers. There really aren’t any controls on how that information is used (or abused). The continuing use of Negotiated Service Agreements that keeps details of relationships between the Postal Service and companies like Amazon should be at least as much of a concern as the abuse of mail covers.