Informed Delivery

by Colin Berkshire

For half a decade the USPS has been scanning and storing the face of every letter that they process.

This was made possible through the “support” of the NSA, who wants to know who is communicating with whom. This has already been used in resolving a number of crimes where the sender of a letter hasn’t included their return address. By going through all mail images, the mailbox where the letter was deposited can be determined, and that provides an approximate geographic location of the sender. It also allows security camera footage around the collection box to be reviewed. It’s been remarkably effective.

Well, it is no longer a secret that the USPS is photographing every letter that they handle.

So the USPS has decided to turn this capability into a feature. You can now sign up for their free “Informed Delivery” service. Each morning you will receive an email from the USPS showing the scanned images of the mail that is to be delivered to you that day. Then, you know when something is supposed to be delivered. It will also let you know if somebody is pilfering your mail.

The USPS even has a pretty easy to use app so that you can review all scanned pieces in the prior week. It’s a well designed and easy to use app. An added bonus of the app is that you will get the tracking numbers of all inbound express mail and priority mail parcels.

While we can lament the loss of privacy from having the government monitor our every action, it is at least nice when we get a few spin-offs to make our life easier. The spin-offs don’t justify the intrusion, but given that it’s already happening then we may as well enjoy the table scraps.

Informed Delivery by the USPS is new, and not all areas are receiving the data stream yet. You can sign up, but the availability of the images is hit or miss through the end of 2017.