One gun scope app has started to cause a lot of problems––because the U.S. government wants to know the names, locations and contact information of the people who use it. The feds want Apple and Google to hand over the data of at least 10,000 users of Obsidian 4, a tool used to control rifle scopes made by night-vision specialist American Technologies Network Corp (ATN).
Obsidian 4 allows gun owners to get a live stream, take video and calibrate their gun scope from an Android or iPhone device.
According to Forbes, the court order was filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on September 5. It’s the first time in history such a huge demand has been publicly made for personal data of app users.
But there is still a lengthy process ahead of the U.S. government to get the data from the gun scope app. The court order would have to be approved and then Apple and Google would have to decide whether or not to hand over the users’ information. The information would include telephone numbers and IP addresses.
Forbes reported that the reason for the data grab is because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) thinks the information could help them look into breaches of weapons export regulations, specifically ATN’s scope. ICE thinks that knowing where people are using the app will show where the scope has been illegally shipped, such as to countries like Canada, the Netherlands and Hong Kong.
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For now, no public charges have been filed against the gun scope app, but reports have claimed ATN scopes were being used by the Taliban.
Attorneys in the privacy sector say that this sets a dangerous precedent for the government going forward.
“The danger is the government will go on this fishing expedition, and they’ll see information unrelated to what they weren’t looking for and go after someone for something else,” said Tor Ekeland, a privacy-focused lawyer. “There’s a more profound issue here with the government able to vacuum up a vast amount of data on people they have no reason to suspect have committed any crime.”