Liberating government documents is what we do.
Comprised of leading attorneys, activists, and scholars, Property of the People is a nonprofit specialist organization dedicated to the aggressive pursuit of governmental transparency in the service of democracy.
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas declared, “a democracy cannot function unless the people are permitted to know what their government is up to.” Through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, other research methodologies, impact litigation, and expert analysis, Property of the People works to provide precisely this knowledge.
Some highlights of our work include:
We exposed Donald Trump’s violations of the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
We exposed Trump White House visitor logs.
We exposed a death threat against a NYC housing commissioner who opposed granting Donald Trump a multi-million dollar tax abatement on Trump tower.
We exposed The FBI’s earliest known use of classified remote installation anti-encryption malware, as well as the DOJ’s unlawful withholding of this information from Congress.
We exposed the FBI’s anti-communist crusade against Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement.
We exposed the inner workings of the CIA’s spying on the Senate’s investigation of CIA torture.
We exposed FBI policies to conceal information about electronic surveillance from prosecutors and defendants alike.
We exposed FBI efforts to secure federal terrorism charges against animal rights activists who expose horrific conditions on factory farms.
We exposed unlawful collusion between the USDA’s American Egg Board and major agricultural lobby.
We exposed the mechanics and architecture of the FBI, CIA, DOJ, and other agencies’ routine and flagrant noncompliance with the Freedom of Information Act.
Executive Director & Co-founder
Ryan Shapiro holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a former Research Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Shapiro is an historian of national security, the policing of dissent, and government transparency. Shapiro is widely known as a leading expert on the Freedom of Information Act.
Politico describes Shapiro as “a FOIA guru[.]” MuckRock describes Shapiro as “a FOIA superhero.” The FBI argued in federal court that Shapiro’s MIT dissertation FOIA research methodologies are themselves a threat to national security. Relatedly, Professor and author Will Potter describes Shapiro as “The FBI’s Worst Nightmare.”
Lead Counsel & Co-founder
Jeffrey Light is a Washington, D.C.-based FOIA specialist attorney. Light is an NLG member who received his JD from Georgetown Law, as well as an MS in Bioinformatics from Brandeis University. Beyond his expertise in FOIA matters, Light also has extensive experience in activist defense and First Amendment law, as well as police misconduct, prisoner abuse, LGBT, and civil rights law. Light is widely regarded as among the best FOIA attorneys in the country.
For his legal work, Light has received awards from the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the Washington Peace Center.
Selected Media Coverage
Property of the People
1629 K St., NW
Washington, DC 20006
Propertyofthepeople.org was hatched by The Sparrow Project and meticulously built by Balestra Media; with creative direction from Andy Stepanian; project management from Courtney Holsworth; and brand identity from Anthony Carlucci of Knew Studio.