EPIC Sues Postal Service to Halt Use of Facial Recognition, Social Media Monitoring
August 12, 2021
EPIC has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service to block the use of facial recognition and social media monitoring tools under the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP). EPIC’s case challenges the Postal Service’s failure to conduct and publish the Privacy Impact Assessment mandated by the E-Government Act before procuring and using advanced surveillance systems under iCOP. EPIC is seeking a court order to block iCOP from using these tools at least until the Postal Service has conducted the required assessment. EPIC brought suit after the Postal Service failed to locate a PIA in response to EPIC’s Freedom of Information Act request. Under iCOP, law enforcement officials the U.S. Postal Inspection Service monitored protests in the summer of 2020 and spring of 2021 and used Clearview AI’s controversial facial recognition product to identify individuals. The iCOP’s surveillance of protests and tracking of “inflammatory” content goes far beyond the program’s mandate to investigate fraud and other crimes perpetuated through the mail or USPS’s website. EPIC has previously used the E-Government Act to block the deployment of a media surveillance platform by the Department of Homeland Security and to halt the collection of voter data by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.