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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 28, 2024
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 increases the transparency and oversight over the New York City 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. Some of those public comments are available here.

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.

Update: On April 11, 2021, the NYPD published its final impact and use policies. As required by the POST Act, the NYPD Inspector General must release its annual audit of the NYPD’s policies. On November 3, 2022, unable to complete a full audit of the policies based on a lack of information provided by the police, the Inspector General instead released a report on the NYPD’s compliance with the Act. The Inspector General found that the NYPD had largely evaded its reporting responsibilities by, for example, using generic and boilerplate language in its impact and use policies, grouping similar technologies under one policy to avoid review of technology-specific drafts, adding new technologies to existing policies to evade public comment, and failing to provide detailed reports on the potential impacts of these technologies. In response, City Council introduced amendments aimed at strengthening the POST Act. The Brennan Center, alongside other interested civil rights groups, supports the passage of these amendments.

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. The proposed amendments provide important clarifications and necessary teeth for the Act to provide accountability as intended.


Updated Policies & Reports

Background on the Bill

Brennan Center Analysis

Media Round-Up

POST Act Press Release

Testimony in Support of the Bill