The New York City Council is currently considering passing the POST Act, which stands for Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology. The act is designed to allow the average citizen of New York City to have some knowledge of the surveillance methods being employed by the New York Police Department.
These methods have been increasingly scrutinized after New York settled a Federal Lawsuit last year. The Federal lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union after it was revealed the police department had conducted warrantless surveillance of mosques for a decade, utilizing a variety of methods not in line with traditional police procedures.
Some methods currently utilized by the NYPD include:
- Facial recognition technology, the extent of which is unknown
- Undercover police officers infiltrating organizations and mosques without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing
- Data compilation and dossiers of unknown extent maintained on New York citizens
The New York Police Department and the Mayor have come out against the POST Act, which would require disclosure of what types of technology the police are using and how they are being utilized. The Police Department claims this could interfere with active investigations, but have not identified precisely how.
Trusting the NYPD to self-monitor potential Civil Rights abuses is dangerous, considering their long history of violations. The NYPD has not historically self-reported abuses. In the past, it has taken determined journalists to reveal the existence of these programs. And even when extra-judicial surveillance has been identified, the NYPD has been hesitant to make victims whole.
The fallout of these surveillance programs can be difficult to determine. It is not yet known the extent to which these programs have affected the mental health of those who were unfairly targeted, nor whether or not housing prospects and employment prospects might have been damaged. If you have been the victim of police overreach, please contact an experienced attorney who can help you hold them accountable for their violations of your rights.