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Smile — Your Mail Has Been Photographed

Smile — Your Mail Has Been Photographed

It seems that U.S. citizens lose a little more privacy every day. Now, it turns out that our mail, about 160 billion pieces each year, is routinely photographed — and has been for years.

In July 2013, The New York Times reported on a New York bookstore owner who noticed odd markings on a postcard delivered to him. Investigation of the markings led to an explanation of the ordinary activities of the U.S. Postal System that include taking images of each piece of mail that flows through each post office.

Originally used to track batching of mail delivered to the post office, Mail Covers is the name of the program discovered by Leslie Pickering, the New York bookstore owner. An updated system, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program supported the efforts of law enforcement officers to track mail laced with ricin that was sent to President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier in 2013.

Some points about this software include:

  • The U.S. Postal Service put image monitoring in place after anthrax spores placed in mail killed five people and infected 17 others in 2001.
  • The system allows the U.S. Postal Service to track the route of a mailed letter or parcel and can assist law enforcement with locating the sender.
  • Images generated by the U.S. Postal Service are stored by machine for a week to 30 days and then deleted.

While effective law enforcement is essential, so are the protections of privacy granted to citizens of the United States. If you’re facing criminal charges in Ohio based on illegally obtained evidence, talk to a skilled criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Gregory S. Robey.


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