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The Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act: A Resource Page

This resource page is intended to provide journalists, policy-makers, and the public information about the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act.

Last Updated: March 5, 2021
Published: June 12, 2017

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.

Background on the Bill

Brennan Center Analysis

Media Round-Up

POST Act Press Release

Testimony in Support of the Bill