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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Threats to Privacy > Anti-Privacy Law and Regulation > The Postal Service's CMRA Regulations

The Postal Service's CMRA Regulations

One of the most effective ways to protect privacy is to remain anonymous or to use a false name (pseudonymity). There are many legitimate reasons to refuse to be identified. Victims of stalking, for example, may want to hide their actions and whereabouts. Governments that believe in the privacy of their citizens should leave room for anonymity and pseudonymity.

The United States Postal Service does not believe in anonymity or pseudonymity, however. Its regulations of Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies (CMRAs) like Mail Boxes Etc. make it illegal to receive mail anonymously or under an assumed name.

The Postal Service’s Domestic Mail Manual requires CMRAs to get two pieces of identification from customers and verify that they give accurate name information and the address where they actually reside or do business. CMRAs must forward this information to the postmaster and maintain copies of it on their premises.

What does this mean for someone who wants to be able to receive alimony checks, but keep a wide berth from an abusive former spouse? It means the spouse has several ways of getting to them, thanks to regulations that compromise privacy by requiring full disclosure of information to CMRAs and the Postal Service.

The Postal Service has promulgated regulations that limit the availability of the names of CMRA customers. The best approach to this problem, however, is allowing CMRA customers to identify themselves only if they want to.


Application for Delivery of Mail Through Agent (Form 1583), U.S. Postal Service (August 2000)

Federal Register Notice Announcing Change of CMRA Regulations to Limit Disclosure of Customer Information U.S. Postal Service (January 25, 2000)

Comments? (Subject: CMRARegulations)

[updated 10/30/00]

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