On Thursday, the Department of Justice issued a court order that they want Apple and Google to hand over the information to more than 10,000 gun owners. DOJ wants information on gun owners using the mobile app called Obsidian 4, which allows rifle owners to calibrate their scope using their mobile phone, Forbes reported.
The government wants users' data as part of a larger immigration and customs enforcement investigation into violations of the arms export regulations. Specifically, the DOJ considers illegal export of the American Technologies Network Corps, the owner of Obsidian 4, scope.
It looks at illegal export of ATN's scope, even though the company is not under investigation, according to the order. As part of this, investigators are looking for a quick way to find out where the app is being used, as it is likely to indicate where the hardware has been sent. ICE has repeatedly received illegal shipments of the scope, which is controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), according to the filing by the government court. They included shipments to Canada, the Netherlands and Hong Kong where the necessary licenses had not been obtained.
“This pattern of illegal attempted export of this rifle scope in combination with the way the ATN Obsidian 4 application is linked to this scope produced by Company A supports the conclusion that the information requested here will help the government identify networks that is conducting illegal export of this rifle scope by identifying end users located in countries to which the export of this item is restricted, ”the government order reads. (The order should have been sealed, but Forbes obtained it before the document was hidden from public view.) There is no clear government decision to limit this to countries outside America, but that restriction may be in place .
It is unclear just who ICE is investigating. No public charges related to the company or dealers of its weapons tools have been filed. Online reports have claimed that the ATN scope was used by the Taliban.
It is unclear how people have downloaded the mobile app. Google Play confirms more than 1
If the judge agrees to this outstanding move, the technology giants will have to give the DOJ names, phone numbers and IP addresses to anyone who downloaded the app between August 1, 2017 until now. The government also wants to know when each person made use of the app.
Should the tech giants have to disclose users' data, this would be a huge breach of trust. It would be a fishing expedition. And who would suffer? Especially larger audiences and gun owners. Passing this request would create dangerous precedents. However, the most dangerous aspect is that the authorities can identify every single person and every firearm a person has. It's a form of a gun register … without calling it that.