Matt Gaetz Announces Bill to Defund US Postal Service’s Surveillance Program

Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz (R) reintroduced the ‘‘USPIS Surveillance Protection Act.” The legislation, if passed, would defund the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP), an domestic surveillance program operated by the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).

The program has been a source of debate since a news report revealed USPIS’ iCOP surveillance government bulletin that was distributed by the Department of Homeland Security. The bulletin reported the program’s findings of “inflammatory” posts on social media accounts, including on Facebook, Parler, and Telegram.

In response to pressure from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the USPS Inspector General released a report stating that “certain proactive searches iCOP conducted using an open-source intelligence tool from February to April 2021 exceed the Postal Inspection Service’s law enforcement authority.” According to Gaetz’ press release, there has been no indication that USPIS has shut down iCOP, likely meaning that this surveillance program is still potentially violating Americans’ privacy and First Amendment rights.

Rep. Gaetz’s legislation would prohibit any federal funds, including amounts available in the Postal Service Fund, from being used by USPIS to carry out iCOP, or any other similar program.

“The Postal Service should be focused on delivering the mail on time and on budget, not running a covert surveillance program to monitor political behavior on social media. This program is not only outside USPIS’ jurisdiction and infringes on American citizens’ civil liberties but is more evidence of the government-sanctioned spying on its own citizens. Congress must immediately abolish this program,” Congressman Gaetz said.

“The USP Inspection Service is operating outside of its USPS jurisdiction when it monitors internet users’ sharing of information as its jurisdiction is narrowly defined within postal mail only, An excerpt from the bill reads.” The iCOP program is a violation of privacy; it encroaches upon the private lives of Americans and seeks to curb constitutional rights of the First Amendment. iCOP is not only illegal for operating outside of its stated jurisdiction, but also politically mo24 tivated in its target.”

Currently, Gaetz bill doesn’t have any co-sponsors in the U.S. House.

Full text of Congressman Gaetz’s bill can be found HERE.

Matt O'Hern
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