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Apple, Google ordered to release names of thousands of gun app users

Investigators demanded the private data of countless individuals not suspected of a crime.


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Sep 6, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 4:34 am CDT

The federal government is asking Apple and Google to release the personal information of more than 10,000 users of a gun scope app, Forbes reports.

In a Sept. 5 application for a court order from the Department of Justice, investigators demanded the two tech giants provide everything from names and telephone numbers to IP addresses.

The app, Obsidian 4, allows firearm owners to control their rifle scopes from their smartphone. Over 10,000 Android users downloaded the app, according to statistics on the Google Play store. The number of iOS users remains unclear.

Investigators say scopes from the app’s creator, American Technologies Network Corp., have been illegally exported. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement department believes that by locating users of the app, officials can track down where the scopes have been shipped to.

It remains unclear who investigators are targeting given that no public charges have been filed, including against ATN. While the scopes are said to have been illegally sent to countries such as Canada, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands, other reports indicate that the Taliban may have received the scopes, as well.

The federal government’s demand is being characterized as unprecedented as it will undoubtedly sweep up the information of innocent individuals.

“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,” privacy lawyer Tor Ekeland said. “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. They don’t have any probable cause to investigate, but they’re getting access to data on them.”

It remains yet to be seen whether Google and Apple will fight the request or comply.


H/T Forbes

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*First Published: Sep 6, 2019, 5:26 pm CDT