The US Postal Service (USPS) has been running a secret program to track and collect Americans’ social media posts – including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News.
The surveillance program – operated by the law enforcement arm of the USPS, is known as iCOP or “Internet Covert Operations Program” – has not been previously made public according to the report.
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. –Yahoo News
“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,” reads a government bulletin dated March 16, marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed throughout 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.”
The report cites intelligence that ‘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’ against pandemic lockdown measures.
“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,’” reads the bulletin,” though it hedges with “No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats.”
The bulletin includes screenshots of posts concerning the protests from Facebook, Parler, Telegram and other social media sites (only one of which – Parler – was ‘canceled’ by big tech).
“iCOP analysts are currently monitoring these social media channels for any potential threats stemming from the scheduled protests and will disseminate intelligence updates as needed,” reads the bulletin.