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1999 Ron Paul Chapter 52

The Mailbox Privacy Protection Act

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25 May 1999
HON. RON PAUL
OF TEXAS
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Tuesday, May 25, 1999


1999 Ron Paul 52:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce H.J. Res. 55, the Mailbox Privacy Protection Act, a joint resolution disapproving a Postal Service Regulation which tramples on the privacy of the two million Americans who rent mailboxes from Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies. Under this regulation, any American currently renting, or planning to rent, a commercial mailbox will have to provide the receiving agency with personal information, including two items of valid identification, one of which must contain a photograph of the applicant and one of which must contain a “serial number — traceable to the bearer.” Of course, in most cases that number will be today’s de facto national ID number — the Social Security number.

1999 Ron Paul 52:2
The receiving agency must then send the information to the Post Office, which will maintain the information in a database. Furthermore, the Post Office authorizes the Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies to collect and maintain photocopies of the forms of identification presented by the box renter. My colleagues might be interested to know that the Post Office is prohibited from doing this by the Privacy Act of 1974. I hope my colleagues are as outraged as I am by the Post Office’s mandating that their competitors do what Congress has forbidden the Post Office to do directly.

1999 Ron Paul 52:3
Thanks to the Post Office’s Federal Government-granted monopoly on first-class delivery service, Americans cannot receive mail without dealing with the Postal Service. Therefore, this regulation presents Americans who wish to receive mail at a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency with a choice: either provide the federal government with your name, address, photograph and social security number, or surrender the right to receive communications from one’s fellow citizens in one’s preferred manner.

1999 Ron Paul 52:4
This regulation, ironically, was issued at the same time the Post Office was issuing a stamp honoring Ayn Rand, one of the twentieth century’s greatest champions of liberty. Another irony connected to this regulation is that it comes at a time when the Post Office is getting into an ever increasing number of enterprises not directly related to mail delivery. So, while the Postal Service uses its monopoly on first-class mail to compete with the private sector, it works to make life more difficult for its competitors in the field of mail delivery.

1999 Ron Paul 52:5
This regulation also provides the Post Office with a list of all those consumers who have opted out of the Post Office’s mailbox service. Mr. Speaker, what business in America would not leap at the chance to get a list of their competitor’s customer names, addresses, social security numbers, and photographs? The Post Office could even mail advertisements to those who use private mail boxes explaining how their privacy would not be invaded if they used a government box.

1999 Ron Paul 52:6
Coincidentally, this regulation will also raise the operating cost on the Post Office’s private competitors for private mailbox services. Some who have examined this bill estimate that it could impose costs as high as $1 billion on these small businesses during the initial six-month compliance period. The long-term costs of this rule are incalculable, but could conceivably reach several billion dollars in the first few years. This may force some of these businesses into bankruptcy.

1999 Ron Paul 52:7
During the rule’s comment period, more than 8,000 people formally denounced the rule, while only 10 spoke generally favor of it. However, those supporting this rule will claim that the privacy of the majority of law-abiding citizens who use commercial mailboxes must be sacrificed in order to crack down on those using commercial mailboxes for criminal activities. However, I would once again remind my colleagues that the Federal role in crime, even if the crime is committed in “interstate commerce,” is a limited one. The fact that some people may use a mailbox to commit a crime does not give the Federal Government the right to treat every user of a commercial mailbox as a criminal. Moreover, my office has received a significant number of calls from battered women who use these boxes to maintain their geographic privacy.

1999 Ron Paul 52:8
I have introduced this joint resolution in hopes that it will be considered under the expedited procedures established in the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996. This procedure allows Congress to overturn onerous regulations such as the subject of this bill. Mr. Speaker, the entire point of this procedure to provide Congress with a means to stop federal actions which pose an immediate threat to the rights of Americans. Thanks to these agency review provisions, Congress cannot hide and blame these actions on the bureaucracy. I challenge my colleagues to take full advantage of this process and use it to stop this outrageous rule.

1999 Ron Paul 52:9
In conclusion Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in cosponsoring the Mailbox Privacy Protection Act, which uses the Agency Review Procedures of the Contract with America Advancement Act to overturn Post Office’s regulations requiring customers of private mailboxes to give the Post Office their name, address, photographs and social security number. The Federal Government should not force any American citizen to divulge personal information as the price for receiving mail. I further call on all my colleagues to assist me in moving this bill under the expedited procure established under the Congressional Review Act.
Notes:

Ron Paul also discusses the topic of this statement in 1999 Ron Paul Chapter 55 and 2000 Ron Paul Chapter 15

1999 Ron Paul 52:4 an ever increasing number probably should be hyphenated: an ever-increasing number.

1999 Ron Paul 52:7 while only 10 spoke generally favor of it probably should be while only 10 spoke generally in favor of it.

1999 Ron Paul 52:9 the expedited procure probably should be the expedited procedure.

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