Prism and Tempora had been the buzzwords in the current surveillance scandal in the United States: Two programs that monitor and observe the traffic of the entire planet up to the smallest detail.
But right now, the current surveillance scandal gets another dimension because even the traditional mail is also monitored systematically in the United States and this is a really big thing.
The internet has made the monitoring of communication relatively easy. Letters, however, are much harder to control. And yet, the U.S. authorities have found a highly efficient solution for this problem, which is already used since 2001.
This means, the U.S. authorities control your private letters and business letters since over ten years.
At that time, numerous attacks with letters that were contaminated with Anthrax were carried out in the United States. In the investigation of the sender, who were able to kill five people by these Anthrax-contaminated letters, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had an extremely difficult job.
As a result of these problems in the investigation of the perpetrators behind these dangerous letters, a program called “Mail Isolation Control and Tracking” was launched in the United States.
This “Mail Isolation Control and Tracking” program was established to automatically photograph all envelopes, postcards, and cardboard boxes that go through the U.S. Postal Service.
This makes around 160 billion pictures of letters per year that list every sender and the receiver for every individual shipment in the U.S. postal system.
Thus, for example, the U.S. authorities are able to identify the communication partners or to recognize the personal preferences on the basis of e.g. magazine subscriptions. It is yet not known how long these photos of all the letters are stored.
The only consolation is, so far (who knows..), that the U.S. authorities did not take pictures of the content of the letters and shipments within the United States.