Feds Order Apple, Google To Turn Over Gun Scope App User Data
According to a new application filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Google and Apple may soon be forced to turn over names of gun scope app users. The move would desecrate any notion of Constitutional privacy. It would also be the first time in history that the U.S. government requested mass data from a single smart device app, which could potentially give way to an unsavory slippery slope.
The app, Obsidian 4, allows users to control rifle optics (scopes). American Technologies Network Corp., the creator of the scope app, is a night-vision optics company. Their Obsidian 4 app gives users the ability to live stream from their gun scope in an effort to calibrate their scopes sights. Calibrating scopes is a common practice for rifle owners looking to improve the accuracy of their guns. The app helps those efforts in a digital medium. The app has been downloaded at least 10,000 times by Google Android users. Apple doesn’t publish download metrics in their app store.
Privacy International’s State Surveillance program Edin Omanovic told Forbes, who first reported the story on Friday, that if the DOJ request is approved and both Apple and Google comply, it will affect “huge amounts of innocent people’s personal data.”
“Such orders need to be based on suspicion and be particularized—this is neither,” Omanovic added.
Both Apple and Google are remaining quiet on the matter.
Why Does The DOJ Want Obsidian 4 Data?
It all comes down to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation into illegal weapons exporting. It believes that the app maker, American Technologies Network Corp, is illegally exporting one of its scopes. So the DOJ wants more information over where the app is being used and by whom. ICE wants more investigative legwork to help them intercept more illegal scope shipments.
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“This pattern of unlawful, attempted exports of this riflescope in combination with the manner in which the ATN Obsidian 4 application is paired with this scope manufactured by Company A supports the conclusion that the information requested herein will assist the government in identifying networks engaged in the unlawful export of this rifle scope through identifying end-users located in countries to which export of this item is restricted,” the government order reads.
If you are wondering how the order is now public, you can thank Forbes. Forbes discovered the order as hidden, but still attainable.
If the order were only to stop illegal shipments, the court order would request only users outside fo the United States. But it doesn’t. It request all data from all users living anywhere. In other words, the government is looking to access anyone and everyone’s personal data that they used in the two largest app stores online.
Why is this a big deal?
Because, well, the government can build unrelated cases.
It should be noted, Google and Apple have yet to make any comment over the matter. Apple does indeed have a history of stifling government data privacy requests. In December of 2015, Apple refused to unencrypt the San Bernadino shooter’s iPhone, much to the chagrin of now President Trump. Apple’s refusal remains a point of contentious debate between privacy advocates and those who feel Apple obstructed justice. The FBI was eventually able to view the data after an unknown third party did the work for them. But at least Apple was wise enough to remain staunchly opposed to giving up what would amount to encryption secrets regarding one of the most popular smart devices in the world.
This is as Orwellian as it gets. It doesn’t matter who you voted for, if you can’t see the forest for the trees, you’ll end up enslaved. This is bad Trump, make no mistake about it.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.