The New York City Council on Thursday voted local time to require the New York Police Department (NYPD), the nation’s largest police department, to disclose all the technology it uses to monitor people,media reported. Anti-police violence rallies have broken out in the country following the deaths of several black people at the hands of police. Now, New York City councillors have passed the Surveillance Technology Public Surveillance Act (POST) by an absolute majority. Mayor Bill Beasty will have 30 days to sign it into law.
It is understood that the law will require the NYPD to disclose all of its surveillance technologies used by the public, as well as policies on how they are used. The law will also require police departments to issue annual oversight reports to ensure compliance with these policies.
“These measures, which we voted on today, strengthen accountability and transparency in the police department, while providing clear guidelines for addressing police misconduct,” City Council spokeswoman Corey Johnson said at Thursday’s hearing. “
The NYPD is reported to have a budget of about $6 billion a year for the deployment of a range of surveillance tools, from facial recognition technology to license plate readers to X-ray vehicles. Many of these tools are only known to the public simply because of reports and requests for public information, and privacy advocates warn that the NYPD still has a lot of undisclosed information.
Cities such as Seattle, Oakland, Detroit and Nashville have passed similar bills, but New York’s law would mean that one of the world’s most powerful police forces will have to disclose the spying techniques they use.
“Now, NYPD must show the public how intrusive and biased their tracking tools are,” said Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Project. For a long time, the NYPD used federal and private sector grants to spy on New Yorkers without any citizen oversight, especially for people of color, immigrants, and Muslim communities. “
The NYPD opposed the bill, telling the city council in December that if POST were passed it would put New York City in the hands of terrorists and criminals. NYPD did not respond to a request for comment on the latest poll.
As the city council voted on the surveillance reforms, the NYPD tweeted that the POST bill could endanger plainclothes police officers because they would expose the devices they use.
Post was first proposed in 2017, but the NYPD’s no-vote was delayed for a long time.