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FedEx Police - [Cooperation] "up to and including the line on which we would be doing a disservice to our shareholders"
May 31, 2005 3:40 PM   Subscribe

WSJ - "FedEx's newfound enthusiasm for a frontline role in the war on terror shows how the relationship between business and government has changed in the past few years. In some cases, these changes are blurring the division between private commerce and public law enforcement."

"FedEx... has granted customs inspectors access to the company's database of international shipments, which includes the name and address of a shipper, the package's origin and its final destination. The databases also include credit-card information and other payment details that the government is not entitled to solicit outside of a criminal investigation. "Our guys just love it," says one senior customs official overseeing inspections at international courier companies." [UPS, nor even the USPS will provide this much assistance to the DHS without a warrant.]

"Two years ago, after intense lobbying by FedEx of the Tennessee state legislature, the company was permitted to create a 10-man, state-recognized police force. FedEx police wear plain clothes and can investigate all types of crimes, request search warrants and make arrests on FedEx property."
posted by pwb503 (39 comments total)

 
and they make copies now too
posted by cortex at 3:45 PM on May 31, 2005


"We never sell information to third parties that could be used to specifically identify an individual customer or group of customers. Anonymized data, with all names, addresses and other Personal Information removed, is sometimes shared with third parties. Finally, we do provide Personal Information to government agencies as required by law or regulation."

- UPS: Privacy Policy
posted by grabbingsand at 3:48 PM on May 31, 2005


As precedent, the firm pointed to the railroads, which have had their own police officers as far back as the 1880s. Currently, railroad officers are responsible for protecting railroad equipment and patrolling the 200,000 miles of track and rights of way the nation's railroads own. Many railroad officers are members of task forces on terrorism.

As anyone who has hopped a freight train will tell you, railroad bulls take "unaccountable police abuse" to an entirely new level. The idea of more private police forces is so vile.
posted by cmonkey at 3:50 PM on May 31, 2005


It's one thing to provide information given a warrant, quite another to freely share an obscene amount of personal info without any restrictions.

Certainly my MP should at least find out whether this is in violation of Canada's privacy laws.
posted by clevershark at 3:51 PM on May 31, 2005


This is all very Snow Crash
posted by gurple at 3:52 PM on May 31, 2005


It would seem that FedEx's exposing of untold customers' private information without notice has got to be breaking some laws but I guess that's alright as long as they get those pesky terrorists.

Is there a term for the determined erosion of rights under a pretext like rooting out terrorists? If there isn't then there should be an I'd like to nominate "getting bushed" as the term.
posted by fenriq at 4:17 PM on May 31, 2005


I, for one, welcome our new FedEx overlords.
posted by neckro23 at 4:20 PM on May 31, 2005


Why can't McDonald's have it's own security force able to arrest and detain suspicous persons? How about Chevrolet? The local grocery store?
posted by mk1gti at 4:24 PM on May 31, 2005


fenriq: Bushwacked is less sexual than getting bushed, though losing ones rights is similar to be being fucked over...
posted by schyler523 at 4:27 PM on May 31, 2005



posted by quonsar at 4:28 PM on May 31, 2005


Well, it's funny that we keep hearing that the judiciary is legislating from the bench but clearly, this is a case where it's going to take the judiciary to set boundaries because our elected officials don't even address it. It's maddening. I'm at a loss to understand why the Democrats don't seem to be able to (or don't want to) take a position on an issue of such importance. Osama really did win didn't he? Look at our countrymen and women handing over one right after another to appease what has become a terrorist ghost. I'm all for reasonable tactics in the WOT™, as terrorism is real and we should never throw caution to the wind but this strikes me as way over the top.

During the Cold War, there were literally thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at the motherland. It was a very real and very legitimate threat yet we never would have conceived of such doing something like this, and, in fact, didn't. Now, I watch my countrymen running around like scared mice willing to allow the complete dissection of their 'freedoms' and our elected officials stand around barking at the each other "I know you are but what am I?".

On a side note, I caught just a short snippet of the news conference with the President today only to hear him make a comment regarding the discharge of our brave troops from Iraq with that fucking snicker he always seems to break into when he knows he's talking shit "rather it be sooner than later" (insert snicker here). Compassionate conservative my ass - you are neither dear Leader.
posted by j.p. Hung at 4:28 PM on May 31, 2005


Why can't McDonald's have it's own security force able to arrest and detain suspicous persons?

Next stop for the Hamburglar: Guantanamo Bay...
posted by QuestionableSwami at 4:31 PM on May 31, 2005


mk1gti writes "Why can't McDonald's have it's own security force able to arrest and detain suspicous persons?"

Because of stuff like this? ;)
posted by schyler523 at 4:33 PM on May 31, 2005


schyler523, that is damned creepy (the Billboard Liberation Front pic). As for Bushwhacked, yeah, its got something of the feel but is missing something, something that speaks to the almost unnoticable removal of rights.

j.p. Hung, I loved that he added that in, just in case people weren't sure. I'd also add that he isn't a Dear Leader as well as not being a compassionate conservative. More like a composted cockbobber.
posted by fenriq at 4:45 PM on May 31, 2005


So... how long until Lone Star comes knocking on our doors?
posted by shawnj at 5:06 PM on May 31, 2005


Heh, shawnj, I was thinking we're only a few years late on the Seretech and Shiawase decisions.
posted by Snyder at 5:23 PM on May 31, 2005


Oooops, forgot about that one. . .
I guess next we'll be hearing about how they ripped all the fingernails out of all those clowns . . .
posted by mk1gti at 6:15 PM on May 31, 2005


I wonder, with so many cries against Socialism, why isn't the spectrum given any attention, by which I mean that which has on one end, business controlled by government, and on the other end, government controlled by business.

These two extremes share in common a close connection between government and business. I thought the original laissez faire idea was to maintain some significant measure of distance between the two.
posted by nervousfritz at 6:23 PM on May 31, 2005


The idea of more private police forces is so vile.

They abound. Go to lots and lots of private colleges or universities and you'll find a university PD whose cops are full-on no-shit cops, not security guards. ISTR at Duke that they operated as sheriff's deputies or similar, but they were basically private cops in a private police force.

IIRC, when the crazy-ish escape prisoner ran down the quad firing a pistol and taking people hostage in the hospital/med-school, it was regular old Durham PD who shot him. not Duke PD.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:48 PM on May 31, 2005


So, wait, I shouldn't be sending my dope via FedEx?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:43 PM on May 31, 2005


Note to self: switch to UPS. I never deal with Western Union, AOL or Wal-Mart anyway, but I use FedEx several times a week at work. The rates are comparable, so I'll use UPS. It's just one little choice, but if enough people make do it, it might make a difference. [Who am I kidding?]
posted by letitrain at 9:03 PM on May 31, 2005


make
posted by letitrain at 9:05 PM on May 31, 2005


fenriq writes "Is there a term for the determined erosion of rights under a pretext like rooting out terrorists? If there isn't then there should be an I'd like to nominate "getting bushed" as the term."

Reichstagsbrandverordnung.
posted by orthogonality at 9:21 PM on May 31, 2005


FedEx police, eh? Reminds me of an old RPG I used to play, Shadowrun. I wonder if FedExCops© are as hardcore as Renraku's red samurai... /geekiness
posted by blendor at 9:38 PM on May 31, 2005


I am fucked. They are closing in. Just got this e-mail from FedEx.

"Dear (arse_hat),

Your small business deserves big recognition.
At FedEx, we started out sorting packages on folding tables. In fact, both FedEx and Kinko's began as small businesses like yours. So we know how important it is to control costs — that's why we're giving away free business services as part of our FedEx Salute to Small Business...

...BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH...

...Tell us your story and it could be selected to appear on our Web site... It's just our way of saying we appreciate your business."


Well, so long. I've loved you all, or at least as many of you as I could.
posted by arse_hat at 9:51 PM on May 31, 2005


arse_hat -- Maybe that's one of those sting operations like the vouchers for a "free boat" that somehow only get sent to people who have lots of outstanding parking tickets and/or warrants.
posted by clevershark at 10:01 PM on May 31, 2005


FedEx police. This is a natural. They already wear brown shirts.
posted by SPrintF at 10:05 PM on May 31, 2005


"This is a natural. They already wear brown shirts.", that's UPS.
posted by arse_hat at 10:15 PM on May 31, 2005


"arse_hat -- Maybe that's one of those sting operations like the vouchers for a "free boat" that somehow only get sent to people who have lots of outstanding parking tickets and/or warrants."
Oh, the infamy! Going to Gitmo for parking in a standing zone...
posted by arse_hat at 10:20 PM on May 31, 2005


... the company was permitted to create a 10-man, state-recognized police force ... [that can] make arrests on FedEx property.

As long as the FedEx cops are limited to enforcing local and state laws (and not "the law according to FedEx"), and are held accountable by regular law enforcement, then I don't see a problem with this.

On the other hand, the report of their cavalier attitude with my privacy information disturbs me. No one likes a tattle-tale. Especially when it deals with your credit card information. I want the merchants I buy from to be forced to give out that information, not handing it over before even being asked.

So they've made my life simpler. I now have one less vendor choose from when shipping something. This has the added benefit of ensuring that I will never be arrested by the FedEx cops, since I will no longer be going to their property.

Thanks FedEx!
posted by moonbiter at 11:04 PM on May 31, 2005


If big companies like FedEx give up their rights (and responsibilities) to toady up to the bushies, does that mean something extra? Its one thing when we, as individuals, bitch and moan about politics we despise. Its normal and healthy. But now, to have such a large corporation as FedEx just roll over and go ass-up for the administration seems really far-gone and extreme.

Bush said 'they' hate us for our freedoms, then promptly began removing freedoms. They objected to our bases in Saudi Arabia, we removed those, too. Whatever happened to not giving-in to terrorists? Did that go out of style when we got a draft dodger for prez?
posted by Goofyy at 12:58 AM on June 1, 2005


FedEx police. This is a natural. They already wear brown shirts.

Hey, at least they get the trains packages there on time.

/Godwin
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:46 AM on June 1, 2005


That was Mussolini... No Godwin yet.
posted by benzo8 at 5:16 AM on June 1, 2005


I cancelled my FedEx account this morning and told them why. I strongly urge anyone else who is concerned about this to do the same.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:13 AM on June 1, 2005


Note to self: switch to UPS.
Optimus, I was just going say that to other posters - tell FedEx why you're doing it.

Oddly enough, I was just reading a marketing book written about a decade ago that praises FedEx. But becoming known as the company that's turned over all one's personal info to the government for no reason will not be good PR/marketing. Get the word out.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:30 AM on June 1, 2005


The FedEx main hub is in Memphis. The ten man police force has everything to do with that one facility. There are hundreds of aircraft and millions of packages moving thru it everyday. Those outside TN can feel completely safe as far as that aspect of the story goes.
posted by Carbolic at 10:16 AM on June 1, 2005


Actually this is a better explanation for the creation of the police force (from the Contracostatimes article linked in the original post):

"More important for FedEx, having a private police force qualifies the shipping company to serve on a regional joint terrorism task force, overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The 66 task forces currently in operation across the country -- which consist of local, state and federal officers -- are entrusted with more-sensitive and specific data regarding terrorist threats than businesses usually receive. FedEx is the only major air carrier that is a task-force member.

Although the FedEx representative on the task force can't give his corporate boss inside information because it may be classified, the company still gains a great deal from its membership. That is because the FedEx representative can signal the company to take preventive actions. If the task force learns certain kinds of explosives are being used by terrorists in Asia, for instance, the representative can alert the company to install specialized explosives detectors there.

"If they feel there is a threat to a particular part of FedEx's operation, they can take steps to improve security in that area without revealing security information," says FBI agent George Bolds, who is general counsel in the bureau's Memphis, Tenn., field office, where FedEx is based."


I will admit my bias. I've been employed by the company for the last 26 years.
posted by Carbolic at 10:26 AM on June 1, 2005


Yeah, but why should you need a privileged position on a task force to get vital information that saves lives? That should be information that is freely shared all around, so, for example, all package-handling companies could install such detectors.
posted by blendor at 10:42 AM on June 1, 2005


For the conspiracy theorists out there, FedEx CEO Fred Smith and George W. Bush were in Skull & Bones together.
posted by Frank Grimes at 5:32 PM on June 1, 2005


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