While mail covers, which track record the outside of envelopes and parcels, have been around for a very long time, according to the NY Times, the outside of every piece of mail is now being scanned and saved.
But what could possibly go wrong? Well (boldface mine):
In May 2012, Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor in Arizona, was awarded nearly $1 million by a federal judge after winning a lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff, known for his immigration raids, had obtained mail covers from the Postal Service to track her mail. The judge called the investigation into Ms. Wilcox politically motivated because she had been a frequent critic of Mr. Arpaio’s, objecting to what she considered the targeting of Hispanics in his immigration sweeps. The case is being appealed.
The question is not if these systems are being misused but how egregiously. Regardless of what one thinks of NSA whistleblower Eric Snowden, remember this: he’s just the one you know about. How often is surveillance being used to stifle dissent, front run markets, or blackmail people?
Related: Techniques to track insurgents in Iraq are now being used to identify potential gang members. So much for that presumption of innocence thing (which admittedly was honored in the breach anyway).