FOX31 Denver discovered a hidden camera which captured and recorded facial features and license plate numbers of whoever left the Golden Post Office. However, within an hour of this revelation, the camera disappeared.
Chris Halsne, FOX31 Denver investigative reporter, confirmed that the owner and operator of this hidden camera and recorder was the United States Postal Inspection Service. It is the law enforcement branch of the United States Postal Service.
Apparently, the device was tripped by some vehicle leaving the premises of the office on Johnson Road. However, it was evident that the lens was not placed for capturing front door images, employee entrance doorway and/or dock areas of the office.
Firstly, a watchful customer identified the presence of a data collection device that was hidden inside a utilities box. The device stayed in that place and took pictures throughout the Christmas holidays until mid-January.
According to post office managers, they did not know that customers were being spied upon outside and that building’s security monitoring system did not involve surveillance.
Postal Inspection Service spokesperson refrained from addressing the reason behind such an extensive domestic surveillance process but did confirmed that the agency had a “number of cameras at their disposal.”
According to a Federal Law Enforcement Agent as well as the U.S Postal Inspector, Pamela Durkee, an email has been sent to FOX31 Denver informing that “(We) do not engage in routine or random surveillance. Cameras are deployed for law enforcement or security purposes, which may include the security of our facilities, the safety of our customers and employees, or for criminal investigations. Employees of the Postal Inspection Service are sworn to uphold the United States Constitution, including protecting the privacy of the American public.”
A San Francisco-based attorney for Electric Frontier Foundation, Lee Tien, says that federal agencies are rapidly and extensively implementing secretive surveillance and data collection programs of citizens without a legal warrant signed by a judge.
Lee states: “Part of being a responsible, constitutional government is explaining why it is doing surveillance on its citizens. The government should not be collecting this kind of sensitive information. And it is sensitive! It`s about your relationships, your associations with other people, which can be friendship or political or religious. The idea that we give up that privacy simply because we use the U.S. mail is, I think, a silly idea.”
“The idea that they would be able to keep that information forever and search through it whenever they want to – that seems very, very wrong to us because it means you’ll be able to accumulate over time a lot of innocent peoples’ information and then use it in the kinds of ways that would not be overseen by any kind of court or independent third party.”
The agencies involved and named did not or rather could not offer a written data retention policy detailing about the duration for which these image agents of USPIS have been collecting data from the Golden post office and other Denver area cameras.
Moreover, there is no such policy about the circumstances in which federal agencies can access the personal data collected from the cameras.