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The NYPD is Underreporting Its Invasive Surveillance Tactics

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In the interest of privacy, and with the aim to combat overreaching surveillance, the work of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has raised several concerns.

The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P) revealed through its Research Manager, Corinne Worthington, and research intern, Aaron Greenberg, that the NYPD has been employing surveillance technologies that track civilians unnoticed. This type of tracking includes the use of drones for aerial surveillance, GPS locators for tagging vehicles, and even robots for tracking movement within the subway system.

Related: NYC Mayor Eric Adams: “Big Brother is protecting you”

The implications of these findings go beyond just privacy invasion. With no accountability, these intrusive practices can result in unchecked power dynamics, which can subsequently compromise the justice system and individual rights.

The Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act was introduced to curb such instances by making the NYPD more transparent about surveillance practices. The POST Act demands detailed disclosure of technology usage and data-sharing policies, along with impact assessments to ensure surveillance is commensurate with justice.

Regrettably, it appears that the NYPD has disregarded the POST Act’s regulations since its inception three years ago. Worthington and Greenberg argue that city council’s approval should be a requisite before the NYPD can renew contracts or acquire new technology. This suggestion comes in light of the failure of existing oversight mechanisms to hold the NYPD accountable for compliance with the POST Act.

In its report, the NYPD failed to adequately provide specifics about the technology it employs for surveillance, thereby failing to comply with the POST Act. They strategically exploited loopholes, presenting new technologies as enhancements of current ones to dodge the need for justifying these additions. Furthermore, the NYPD’s report on the technologies’ impact is not sufficiently detailed, and it suppresses key information such as their technology vendors.

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