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iCOP

What the Fusion Center hath wrought: sure, why not bring the U.S. Postal Service in on the domestic surveillance game?

The Postal Service is running a ‘covert operations program’ that monitors Americans’ social media posts

Jana Winter, Contributor / April 21, 2021

The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans? social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News.

The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as ?inflammatory? postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.

Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021, says the March 16 government bulletin, marked as ?law enforcement sensitive? and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security?s fusion centers. Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.

A number of groups were expected to gather in cities around the globe on March 20 as part of a World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, to protest everything from lockdown measures to 5G. Parler users have commented about their intent to use the rallies to engage in violence. Image 3 on the right is a screenshot from Parler indicating two users discussing the event as an opportunity to engage in a fight and to do serious damage, says the bulletin.

No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats, it adds.

. . . The government?s monitoring of Americans? social media is the subject of ongoing debate inside and outside government, particularly in recent months, following a rise in domestic unrest. While posts on platforms such as Facebook and Parler have allowed law enforcement to track down and arrest rioters who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6, such data collection has also sparked concerns about the government surveilling peaceful protesters or those engaged in protected First Amendment activities.

— The Postal Service is running a ‘covert operations program’ that monitors Americans’ social media posts
Jana Winter, Yahoo! News (April 21, 2021) (Wayback Link)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a federal law enforcement agency in possession of good appropriations, must be in want of expansive surveillance programs, and there’s no mission they won’t creep beyond. But this is, in a word, bananas, and it should not be placidly accepted.

Meanwhile, in another Federal Bureau, the FISA court notes that the FBI has repeatedly, knowingly, systematically abused warrantless surveillance systems to violate the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Over and over again for years. And yet…

Federal court approved FBI?s continued use of warrantless surveillance power despite repeated violations of privacy rules

By Ellen Nakashima / April 26, 2021 at 4:22 p.m. CDT

A secretive federal court approved the FBI?s use of a powerful warrantless surveillance authority in November despite finding that the bureau had repeatedly violated rules meant to protect Americans? privacy.

Between mid-2019 and early 2020, FBI personnel conducted queries of data troves containing Americans? emails and other communications, seeking information without proper justification, according to a redacted ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court made public Monday.

But James E. Boasberg, the court?s presiding judge, said the violations occurred before the FBI improved its querying system and training program, and that the coronavirus pandemic has limited the government?s ability to monitor compliance.

While the Court is concerned about the apparent widespread violations … it lacks sufficient information at this time to assess the adequacy of FBI system changes and training, he said.

Therefore, he wrote, ?the Court is willing to again conclude that the … [FBI?s] procedures meet statutory and Fourth Amendment requirements.?

The findings mark at least the third set of FBI rule breaches in the past several years, often involving large numbers of Americans? communications.

— Federal court approved FBI?s continued use of warrantless surveillance power despite repeated violations of privacy rules<br/>Ellen Nakashima, the Washington Post (April 26, 2021)

(Via Mad Dogs & Englishmen ep. 309 and Jesse Walker’s Twitter.)

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