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Biometrics oversight or toothless red tape? NYPD subject to new surveillance disclosure rules

Biometrics oversight or toothless red tape? NYPD subject to new surveillance disclosure rules

Police use of biometric facial recognition and other surveillance technologies will have to go through new scrutiny, after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act into law, writes the Queens Daily Eagle.

The law was first proposed in March 2017, and is one of several police reform bills enacted this week.

The New York Police Department announced a new facial recognition policy earlier this year, which set more detailed policies and guidance but provoked criticism for not addressing the concerns previously expressed about its program.

“New Yorkers deserve to know the type of surveillance that the NYPD uses and its impacts on communities,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in June, according to the Daily Eagle. “Thanks to the POST Act, the department will finally begin disclosing information that has long been kept from the public.”

The Act does not place limits on the use of facial recognition by the police, but proponents say it will improve transparency around the technology’s use.

NYPD officers have been accused of violating people’s rights to build a biometric database and flouting best practices for facial recognition, and a bill to block law enforcement use of facial recognition has been proposed at the state level.

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