The Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act

The Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) bill was introduced by the New York City Council with Vanessa L. Gibson as the sponsor in March 2017. The bill intended to reduce red-tapism. It also wanted to know of the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) usage of the surveillance technologies and information sharing it began using. It addressed the First amendment, NYPD, Privacy, Surveillance, and Police practices. In layman language, this act directs the NYPD to let the Council know of the surveillance technologies it uses in order to help the people have their civil liberties.

Why POST Act?

The NYPD has the greatest amount of information regarding the surveillance technologies used on the public (even when compared to many law enforcement bodies). It uses a gigantic arsenal of surveillance technology. Automated license plate readers, facial recognition as well as X-ray vans are used under this technology. This act requires the Police to reveal this information since the general public is not aware of how exactly all this arsenal is used by the police for survival; The public knows only what is revealed through law enforcement or what the documents released to the public said. One thing to be taken note of is the fact that the legislation only requires disclosure of the technologies. It doesn’t impose any restrictions on the technology used.

Other states of the USA:

Legislators across the United States of America have passed many laws that impose restrictions on the technology used by the police. For example, Facial recognition was banned in San Francisco, Somerville (Massachusetts) and Oakland. Seattle has gone a longer mile by deciding it that the city council must give a nod before the police adopt any particular surveillance technologies. But New York City, on the other hand, has no laws that oversee the police and the technologies it adopts.


Despite all this, the Deputy Commissioner of NYPD expressed his concern to the Council members that this bill, which seeks revelation of the technologies that have been kept low-key and this could possibly help terrorists gain knowledge regarding those things that have been kept secret. The people who commit crimes taking advantage of this transparency can see to it that they don’t get caught. He cited incidences wherein the NYPD could stop the destruction by terrorists just because the surveillance wasn’t known about. He suggested that the bill be amended so as to exempt the police from revealing information regarding surveillance technologies that pertain to national security, public safety as well as that cases that are ongoing so as not to help the perpetrators cause any harm.

POST Act is very important since the New Yorkers ought to know how their data is being used. But the very same New Yorkers want to lead peaceful lives, getting protection from the police. This would mean that the police are to ensure there is surveillance as well as ensure none tries to capture the secrets regarding this technology and take advantage of it. So, this bill is both useful and harmful.


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