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Reporters Committee suggests improvements to NYPD’s proposed surveillance policies

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials

The Reporters Committee is urging the New York City Police Department to ensure that its policies for surveillance technologies include robust, affirmative protections for newsgathering and journalists’ First Amendment rights.

In public comments filed with NYPD officials on Feb. 25, 2021, the Reporters Committee’s Technology and Press Freedom Project recommends that the NYPD establish strict guidelines for the use of surveillance technologies to gather confidential journalist work product or identify anonymous sources, similar to those in place at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Last summer, New York’s City Council adopted the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act, which required the NYPD to develop and publish use policies for its monitoring tools. The Reporters Committee filed its public comments in response to the Department’s recently published draft policies for the technologies it already uses.

In addition to urging NYPD officials to ensure that the First Amendment explicitly informs their surveillance policies, the Reporters Committee’s comments recommend that the Department amend its proposed policies to address data collection and retention by cell-site simulators, prohibit social media monitoring of journalists and include protections for drone journalism.