Metadata and snail mail are working together. The United States Postal Service has reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations. This interesting news came from the blog Lawfare, and their post, “Will Anyone Care About the Postal Service’s Metadata Program.”

This was not 50,000 requests to open people’s mail. It is an ongoing accounting of what is on the outside of the envelopes going to someone’s mailbox. It is, in other words, a metadata program. The most significant difference and point to make in this and the NSA’s highly controversial bulk telephone metadata program is that the program is old, very old. This has been going on since the 19th century.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.