Property of the People sues the FBI for details on "Gravestone," its reassuringly named secret mass-surveillance tool

In 2016, the watchdog group Property of the People discovered a secret FBI spying program called Gravestone, a mention of which slipped into the metadata of a document on the DoJ's website.

Here's what we know about Gravestone from that accidental disclosure: "Gravestone is a system consisting of an IP based camera, routers, firewalls, and a workstation to review surveillance video. The system provides Video Surveillance data to FBI field offices and is used by case agents."

Last March, Property of the People submitted five Freedom of Information Act requests seeking further details on Gravestone, which the FBI did not respond to within the 20-day limit defined by statute. Now, Property of the People is suing the DoJ to force it to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

Under the E-Government Act of 2002, federal agencies are generally required to conduct Privacy Impact Assessments for all systems that collect personally identifiable information, and make these publicly available online. While it is unknown whether the DOJ and FBI consider Gravestone to be a National Security System, the DOJ’s own guidelines mandate that Privacy Impact Assessments be completed for all systems, including National Security Systems. Not only has the DOJ now purged all information about Gravestone from its website, but the FBI and DOJ have failed to make public any Privacy Impact Assessment for the FBI’s Gravestone system.

Property of the People v DoJ

Property of the People sues FBI for documents on previously unknown cyber-enabled surveillance platform named “Gravestone” — Operation 45 [Property of the People]