Josh Gerstein reports:
Cutting-edge data-gathering techniques may have grabbed the spotlight lately, but it turns out the government has been playing fast and loose with a more old-school surveillance method: snail-mail snooping.
The U.S. Postal Service failed to observe key safeguards on a mail surveillance program with a history of civil liberties abuses, according to a new internal watchdog report that USPS managers tried to keep secret, citing security concerns.
The Office of Inspector General audit of so-called “mail covers” — orders to record addresses or copy the outside of all mail delivered to an individual or an address — found that about 20 percent of the orders implemented for outside law enforcement agencies were not properly approved, and 13 percent were either unjustified or not correctly documented.
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