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Federal government orders Apple, Google to turn over personal data of everyone who downloaded a gun scope app


The app has more than 10,000 downloads on Google Play alone

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The federal government has asked Apple and Google to turn over the personal data of anyone who downloaded a free app used to calibrate gun scopes.

What app is this?

The app, Obsidian 4, was developed by American Technologies Network Corp (ATN). According to its Apple App Store description, it allows users to connect scopes sold by ATN to the app on their smartphone or tablet. With this, users can "watch a live video" of a hunt, as well as "adjust/change the various settings on your ATN Smart scope and review the images and videos stored on your scope[']s microSD card."

This app has been downloaded "10,000+" times on Google Play. While Apple doesn't list the number of downloads for individual apps in its App Store, their version has 74 reviews compared with Google Play's 137 at the time of this article's publication, suggesting that the Apple version may have had about half the number of downloads.

What's happening now?

According to Forbes, the Department of Justice filed a court order on September 5 ordering both Google and Apple to give up names, phone numbers, and IP addresses of everyone who downloaded the app since Aug. 1, 2017. The document is now sealed, but Forbes managed to view it while it was briefly publicly available.

According to a snippet from the court order published by Forbes, the government hopes to use this data to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) track down illegal weapons exports to Canada, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong.

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.

In addition to any potential weapons exporters, who may or may not be included in this data, the government will be getting the personal information of thousands of other people.

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