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Protect Postal Privacy

The following information was written by Kathleen Ellis. The Free Software Foundation does not lead this campaign, but we support it by spreading the word and hope that you do too.


The United States Postal Service has submitted a rule to Congress proposing that all Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies (CMRAs) must, as of June 24, 1999, collect significant personal information from all clients using their services. This would certainly affect anonymous mail transactions, and could put millions of CMRA customers in danger. Any CMRA or CMRA customer who refuses to comply with this regulation would effectively lose their right to recieve mail.

The proposed regulation (published in the Federal Register on March 25, 1999) requires that CMRAs collect names, home addresses, telephone numbers, and photo ID information about each customer. If the CMRA customer classifies themselves as a business, they must surrender the information on that box holder to anyone who asks for it. CMRAs are widely used by survivors of domestic violence, undercover law enforcement officials, and stalking victims in order to conceal their locations and identities from people who could cause them harm.

The USPS proposal was intended to help cut down on mail fraud, a practice that costs consumers millions of dollars every year. However, experts state that the Postal Service's proposal will not serve as a deterrent to criminals. “It will be a simple process for those with financial means to rent homes, apartments, office space, or the executive suites available in most major metropolitan areas”, says Postal Watch's website.

Congressman Ron Paul has introduced House Joint Resolution 55, which would effectively revoke the Postal Service's new regulations regarding CMRAs, but the resolution needs your support in order to ensure that this insidious assault on consumer privacy is defeated.

What you can do

  1. Contact your Representative and urge them to co-sponsor HJR 55.
  2. Write or call members of the House Appropriations Committee and inform them about this issue, and urge them to pass the resolution.
  3. Send written comments about this issue to the US Postal Service before July 9, 1999 to:
    Manager, Administration and FOIA United States Postal Service
    475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 8141 Washington, DC 20260-5202

More information

For further information, see the following web pages:

 [FSF logo] “The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom. We defend the rights of all software users.”


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