Earlier this year, New York City Council members Vanessa Gibson and Daniel Garodnick introduced the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act, which would require public disclosure and dialogue on the New York Police Department’s purchase and use of surveillance equipment. The bill is in the weaker vein of similar legislation passed or under consideration by lawmakers in 19 cities across the U.S., where elected officials hope to write use policies and approve or deny the purchase of surveillance gear.
Criminal justice reform and civil rights groups have praised the POST Act for the transparency it brings to NYPD spy equipment purchases, but the bill already faces a steep path to passage as law. Mayor Bill de Blasio opposes it, meaning the city council will need to approve the legislation with at least 34 votes to override the mayor’s veto.
The tough odds haven’t stopped the NYPD from throwing itself into a bare-knuckles publicity campaign to push back against the proposed legislation.