The POST Act: Ensuring Greater Public Oversight of Police Surveillance Technology

Problem

Since 2001, there has been a massive expansion in the use of technology to conduct domestic surveillance. Federal grants have enabled local governments nationwide to purchase these technologies, which are often acquired and used in secret. This creates a range of problems for individuals, communities, and the police, and will only increase as the Trump administration seeks to expand the use of military-grade police gear and surveillance. Over-reliance on secret surveillance technology can exacerbate distrust between communities and police. Secret technologies also often have secret methods of data storage. In an era of hacks and data breaches, the public deserves an understanding of how governments will safeguard sensitive data gathered by surveillance. 

Solution

The Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act would make NYC a leader in public engagement, police accountability, and data security by requiring NYPD to disclose certain details about its surveillance tools, and review public comments, before using new technologies. This first-ever system of public oversight for NYPD’s surveillance tools would help the public understand how these tools may impact their privacy, and whether New York City -- a sanctuary city -- is sharing sensitive data gathered by surveillance with the federal government. In the absence of public oversight, police operate in a bubble, so public input can also allow them to uncover blind spots in their approach.


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