- The Washington Times - Friday, April 23, 2021

Republican lawmakers are demanding that the U.S. Postal Service explain its actions to allegedly spy on Americans via monitoring their social media posts.

Thirty-two House Republicans wrote to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to request a briefing by next Wednesday on the “Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP).”

“The type of amorphous broad mandate under which iCOP is allegedly operating is particularly troubling because it is unclear why the USPS, of all government agencies and the only one devoted to the delivery of Americans’ mail, is taking on the role of intelligence collection,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers from the House Committees on Oversight and Reform and the Judiciary added, “The United States is not lacking in its availability of intelligence agencies, and it should be left to those professionals to engage in this sort of behavior, if it is even necessary at all.”

Earlier this week, a bulletin from iCOP published by Yahoo! News showed iCOP was monitoring planned protest activity in March 2021, including via information distributed through the social media platforms Parler, Facebook, Twitter, and the cloud-based messaging service Telegram.

Parler became popular with supporters of former President Donald Trump amid actions by more prominent social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to restrict content online.

iCOP works to disrupt, dismantle, and identify individuals and organizations using the mail or USPS digital tools to commit crimes or engage in black-market internet trade, according to a 2019 annual report on the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s website. The iCOP team reported making 209 intelligence reports in fiscal year 2019 involving investigations into such things as homicide, narcotics, revenue fraud, mail theft and dangerous mail.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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