On June 18, 2020 the New York City Council voted 44-6 to enact the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act (Int 0487-2018). The bill will increase transparency and oversight over the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) use of sophisticated new surveillance technologies and information sharing networks by requiring the NYPD to disclose basic information about the surveillance tools it uses and the safeguards in place to protect the privacy and civil liberties of New Yorkers.
The POST Act was introduced in March 2017, and its success builds upon three years of persistent advocacy from civil rights groups and community activists, including the Brennan Center, the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), the New York Civil Liberties Union, CAIR New York, the National Lawyers Guild, and the New York Legal Aid Society, among others. In 2020, nationwide racial justice protests motivated by ongoing police violence spurred the overdue passage of the bill.
The Brennan Center commends the New York City Council for passing the POST Act and requiring transparency into the use of surveillance technologies by the largest police department in the country. As required by the law, the NYPD published draft impact and use policies for existing surveillance technologies on January 11, 2021. These draft policies were supposed to describe how the technology will be used, the limitations in place to protect against abuse, and the oversight mechanisms governing use of the technology. Impact and use policies are also required at least 90 days before a new surveillance technology is used. Following the publication of each policy, the public had 45 days to provide input, which will be incorporated into a final impact and use policy brought before the Mayor and City Council. Some of those public comments are available here.
By requiring transparency and periods for public input, the POST Act takes critical first steps towards establishing community oversight over the use of surveillance technologies by the NYPD.
This resource page is intended to provide journalists, policy-makers, and the public information about the POST Act. Below are fact sheets, op-eds, blog posts, and press coverage related to this legislation.
- Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act (The New York City Council, February 14, 2018)
- Committee Report of the Government Affairs Division on Intro No. 1482 (New York City Council, June 14, 2017)
- Brennan Center Testimony to NY City Council on the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act (December 18, 2019)
- Brennan Center Testimony to NY City Council on the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act (June 14, 2017)