FOX31 Denver investigative reporter Chris Halsne confirmed the hidden camera and recorder is owned and operated by the United State Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement branch of the U.S. Postal Service.
The recording device appeared to be tripped by any vehicle leaving the property on Johnson Road, but the lens was not positioned to capture images of the front door, employee entrance, or loading dock areas of the post office.
An alert customer first noticed the data collection device, hidden inside a utilities box, around Thanksgiving 2014. It stayed in place, taking photos through the busy Christmas holidays and into mid-January.
Managers inside the post office tell FOX31 Denver they were unaware customers were being photographed outside and that the surveillance was not part of the building’s security monitoring.
Lee Tien, an attorney for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, says more and more federal agencies are getting away with conducting surveillance and collecting personal data of citizens without a warrant signed by a judge.
“Part of being a responsible, constitutional government is explaining why it is doing surveillance on its citizens,” Lee told Halsne. “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.”
Lee says, “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.”
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