U.S. Government Orders Apple and Google to Identify Users of a Gun Scope App

The U.S. government has ordered Apple and Google to disclose the names, phone numbers, and other information for "at least" 10,000 users of a gun scope app, reports Forbes.

An order filed from the Department of Justice requests info on people who use Obsidian 4, an app that controls rifle scopes made by American Technologies Network Corp. The app is designed to let gun owners get a live stream, take video, and calibrate their gun scope using a smartphone.

riflescope
From the app's App Store description:

The Obsidian 4 application is here to enhance your experience when using the ATN X-Sight 4K and/or the ThOR 4 product lines. This application connects your smart phone, or tablet, to your ATN device via Wifi. This connection allows you to watch a live video stream of your hunt on your smart phone or tablet. The Obsidian 4 app lets you to adjust/change the various settings on your ATN Smart scope, and review the images and videos stored on your scopes microSD card.

On Google Play, the app has more than 10,000 downloads. Since Apple doesn't disclose iOS downloads, it's not clear how many iPhone users have downloaded it.

Edin Omanovic, the lead on Privacy International's State Surveillance program, told Forbes that the order had the potential to set a dangerous precedent, giving the government access to "huge amounts of innocent people's personal data."

The data is being sought because the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has launched a broad investigation into possible breaches of weapons export regulations, and is looking into illegal exports of the ATN scope used with the app. From the government order:

This pattern of unlawful, attempted exports of this rifle scope 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.

Data on app users will allow ICE to determine where the scopes have been shipped, and the investigation comes after ICE intercepted illegal shipments on multiple occasions.

Apple, Google, and scope maker ATN did not respond to Forbes' request for comment. The government is seeking the names and IP addresses of anyone who downloaded the scope app from August 1, 2017 to the current date.

Apple hasn't received a similar request in the United States before, but an unnamed government previously requested data on 58 million users of a single app in a terrorist investigation, and Apple declined to provide the data. It's not yet clear if Apple and Google will comply with the request in this case.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

benshive Avatar
37 months ago
I suspect and definitely hope that Apple will refuse to give over this information.
Score: 72 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SecuritySteve Avatar
37 months ago
This will be interesting. Publicly, Apple (or at least Tim Cook) has gone on about how he feels that gun control is a good thing. Well, now here comes some gun part control that interfaces with an Apple product. What is more important, privacy or gun control? I look forward to seeing how Apple handles this.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zoboomafoo Avatar
37 months ago
How about no - apple
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dewski Avatar
37 months ago
well that is kinda scary
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
konqerror Avatar
37 months ago
why wouldn't the Gov't go "after" the app owners or the company the scopes are from and NOT the app stores themselves?


Doesn't make much sense....then again government.
Think about it: the company that made the scope didn't illegally export it. People who bought it exported it.

They are going after the "app owners". They're getting information on who "bought" the app.

This surely has to be denied. Otherwise whats next?
How about USA determines the real problem and stop selling guns to anyone? How is it that that the rest of the world can see that USA has a gun problem and yet the NRA lobby still protects their "silly" amendment?
So no, please Apple deny this.
This isn't a gun issue. It's an export control issue. Many things are export controlled, including IR cameras, fast computers and GPUs, machine tools, encryption software and hardware, computer firewalls, semiconductor equipment, etc. These are under an international agreement called the Wassenaar Arrangement.

A similar situation is a pile of GPUs ends up in Iran and the government obtains the IPs of people who downloaded the drivers for them.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BJMRamage Avatar
37 months ago
why wouldn't the Gov't go "after" the app owners or the company the scopes are from and NOT the app stores themselves?


Doesn't make much sense....then again government.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

macbook air m2

Exclusive: Apple Plans to Launch MacBook Air With M2 Chip on July 15

Wednesday June 29, 2022 5:23 pm PDT by
The redesigned MacBook Air with the all-new M2 Apple silicon chip will be available for customers starting Friday, July 15, MacRumors has learned from a retail source. The new MacBook Air was announced and previewed during WWDC earlier this month, with Apple stating availability will begin in July. The MacBook Air features a redesigned body that is thinner and lighter than the previous...
Mac Studio IO

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished Mac Studio Models

Thursday June 30, 2022 7:42 pm PDT by
Apple today began selling refurbished Mac Studio models for the first time in the United States, Canada, and select European countries, such as Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In the United States, two refurbished Mac Studio configurations are currently available, including one with the M1 Max chip (10-core CPU and 24-core GPU) for...
top stories 2jul2022

Top Stories: M2 MacBook Air Release Date, New HomePod Rumor, and More

Saturday July 2, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
The M2 MacBook Pro has started making its way into customers' hands and we're learning more about how it performs in a variety of situations, but all eyes are really on the upcoming M2 MacBook Air which has seen a complete redesign and should be arriving in a couple of weeks. Other top stories this week included a host of product rumors including additional M2 and even M3 Macs, an updated...
original iphone 2007

15 Years Ago Today, the iPhone Went On Sale

Wednesday June 29, 2022 4:43 am PDT by
Fifteen years ago to this day, the iPhone, the revolutionary device presented to the world by the late Steve Jobs, officially went on sale. The first iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs on January 9, 2007, and went on sale on June 29, 2007. "An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator... these are not three separate devices," Jobs famously said. "Today, Apple is going to reinvent the...
rootbug

Major macOS High Sierra Bug Allows Full Admin Access Without Password - How to Fix [Updated]

Tuesday November 28, 2017 12:33 pm PST by
There appears to be a serious bug in macOS High Sierra that enables the root superuser on a Mac with a blank password and no security check. The bug, discovered by developer Lemi Ergin, lets anyone log into an admin account using the username "root" with no password. This works when attempting to access an administrator's account on an unlocked Mac, and it also provides access at the login...