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July 28, 2014

Privacy Protection at Center of FedEx Defense Against DoJ Claims

“How much responsibility do shippers like FedEx Corp. or United Parcel Service Inc. bear for the contents of the box or envelope they deliver to your doorstep?”

That question was asked by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog’s Karishma Mehrotra, in the wake of the U.S. Justice Department’s indictment of FedEx over “conspiracy to distribute controlled substances over its alleged role in transporting painkillers and other prescription drugs that had been sold illegally.”

FedEx denies any wrongdoing, and says it will plead not guilty. The company says the DoJ’s claims “lack legal foundation.”

“GoDaddy shuts down child pornography sites because the law is clear,” said Larry Cote, a drug enforcement compliance attorney at Quarles and Brady LLP. “You don’t have that here when you’re talking about shipment … I mean, does UPS, does FedEx know what’s in your boxes?”

That’s exactly the problem, FedEx said in a statement issued last week.

“We want to be clear what’s at stake here: the government is suggesting that FedEx assume criminal responsibility for the legality of the contents of the millions of packages that we pick up and deliver every day,” said the FedEx statement. “We are a transportation company – we are not law enforcement. We have no interest in violating the privacy of our customers. We continue to stand ready and willing to support and assist law enforcement. We cannot, however, do the job of law enforcement ourselves.”

The WSJ Law Blog reports that FedEx “transports more than 10 million packages every day, and it can’t police every one.” It has cooperated with law enforcement on many issues, such as helping “stop illegal drug activity and bring criminals to justice,” the company added.

Read the full story here.

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