One of New Orleans' city-owned surveillance cameras on the corner of Esplanade Ave. and Decatur St. (Michael Isaac Stein/The Lens)

The New Orleans City Council passed a new law on Thursday that regulates certain parts of the city’s surveillance system and places an outright ban on specific pieces of surveillance technology, including facial recognition software and predictive policing. The ordinance, which had been repeatedly delayed over the past year, passed a month after The Lens reported that the NOPD has been using facial recognition software despite years of denials. 

The council has been working on the ordinance for most of the year. And over that time, it was drastically watered down from what was initially drafted — in a partnership between Councilman Jason Williams and local grassroots advocacy group Eye on Surveillance.

The original ordinance would have created comprehensive approval processes, oversight protocols and regular reporting requirements for every part of the city’s sprawling surveillance system. Those were removed from the final version.