• DOJ asks Google, Apple to ID 10,000 users of a gun scope app

    By: Debbie Lord , Cox Media Group National Content Desk


    The Department of Justice filed a court order last week asking Apple and Google for the names,  telephone numbers and IP addresses of people who downloaded an app used to control rifle scopes.


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    The app Obsidian 4 is used with rifle scopes made by American Technologies Network (ATN) and has been downloaded more than 10,000 times on Google Play alone. It is not known how many users downloaded the app that allows gun owners to calibrate the rifle scope from an Android or iPhone device through Apple’s App Store.

    The request for the information, according to a story by Forbes, comes amid an Immigration and Customs Enforcement department investigation into illegal ATN scope exports.

    The DOJ filed the request on Sept. 5. According to the Forbes story, the order was to have been sealed, but the website “obtained it before the document was hidden from public view.”

    Here’s a look at what the government wants and whether they are likely to get the information.

    What is the app?
    According to ATN, Obsidian 4 “connects your smartphone or tablet, to your ATN device via Wi-Fi."
    “This connection allows you to watch a live video stream of your hunt on your smartphone or tablet and review the images and videos stored on your scopes microSD card,” ATN says.

    Why is the government asking for this information?

    ICE is looking into possible breaches of weapons export regulations, the Forbes story reported.

    According to court filings, the investigation centers on illegal exports of ATN scopes. The court filing has since been sealed, but before it was, the filing alleges the scopes have been found in shipments to Hong Kong, Canada and The Netherlands. Those imports, according to the filing, did not have the necessary import licenses required by the International Traffic in Arms Regulation.

    ATN is not being investigated for any violation of the ITAR, Forbes reports.

    ATN told American Military News that they did not know of the government’s request for the user data until they saw the Forbes report online.  

    “ATN has not been contacted by the Department of Justice, Apple, or Google,” the company said in a statement to American Military News on Friday. 

    “ATN will protect its customers and their identifying data to the absolute extent possible under U.S. law.  And, it will not provide any information regarding the identity of our customers to any third party unless specifically required by law,” the statement continued.

    What information would ICE get if the request is honored?

    If the request is approved, ICE would have access to the names of anyone who downloaded the app from Aug. 1, 2017, to the current date, their telephone number and their IP address.

    The filing also includes a request for the time users were operating the app.  

    Have Google and Apple been asked for such information before?

    It is believed this is the first time the two companies have been asked to give up user data for a single third-party app.  

    Will they give up the information voluntarily?
    According to Apple, “Apple has never created a backdoor or master key to any of our products or services. We have also never allowed any government direct access to Apple servers. And we never will.”

    Google's privacy policy says, in part, "We will share personal information outside of Google if we have a good-faith belief that access, use, preservation, or disclosure of the information is reasonably necessary to: Meet any applicable law, regulation, legal process, or enforceable governmental request. We share information about the number and type of requests we receive from governments in our Transparency Report. "

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