USPS has been tracking social media posts! Yahoo News obtained a document allegedly discovering the existence of a service called Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP). According to USPS, iCOP assesses threats to Postal Service employees and its infrastructure by monitoring publicly available open-source information that includes social media posts from various digital platforms and messaging services such as Facebook, Twitter, Parler, and Telegram. Over the last couple of weeks, high-profile media outlets such as The Independent, New York Post, and The Guardian ended up covering the story too.
The monitoring service is operated by USPS’s internal U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), which is the government agency’s primary law enforcement, crime prevention, and security arm. Apparently, iCOP analysts are keeping an eye on most social media channels and are actively looking to gain awareness for any potential threats that may arise from scheduled protests.
In a statement to Yahoo News, USPS said that they’ve only monitored publicly available open-source information and said that to preserve operational effectiveness, they do not wish to discuss its protocols, investigative methods, or tools. However, without getting into many details, they said that the actions of their security officers actively protect its employees, infrastructure, and customers.
However, many Americans have wondered why a government agency such as the USPS, in particular, has been tracking them on social media. Many would expect that such activities be executed by more appropriate agencies such as the FBI, Homeland Security, or NSA. Many also wondered how much of the gathered information is shared with other government agencies and if these tools are not an infringement of the first amendment.
Suppose you wish not to be tracked by government and marketing agencies or be judged for your social media activity in the future. In that case, you may want to consider adjusting your privacy settings on your social media profiles and limiting the engagement you make on digital platforms. Lowering the amount of content you share online would also be a step in the right direction. And if you are serious about protecting your privacy, you may want to start using a VPN. High-quality VPN solutions not only help you maintain a level of online anonymity while browsing but also come with other benefits such as the ability to access any border-restricted content and hide your IP address away from prying eyes.