A recently filed application for a court order by the Department of Justice could see tech giants Apple and Google potentially handing over the private information of tens of thousands of users of a rifle scope app.
According to Forbes, the move was likely the byproduct of an ongoing Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation into the unlawful export of ATN Corp scopes, which are strictly governed by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations program.
The application mentions illegal shipments of these scopes to Canada, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands without appropriate ITAR licensing. Concerns have surfaced that these smart scopes and their companion apps may have made their way into the hands of Taliban fighters overseas.
The app in question, Obsidian 4, was developed by American Technologies Network Corp, a San Francisco-based company that specializes in night vision and thermal imaging devices, as well as high-fidelity "smart" optics and range finders.
Designed to link up with ATN Corp daylight and night vision scopes via Bluetooth or WiFi, the app allows end-users to stream a live feed from their optic to a tablet or a smartphone and comes with a built-in ballistic calculator, a range finder and a special utility which exponentially simplifies the process of zeroing the scope. The app also allows footage to be recorded and replayed, and can save various bits of ballistic data as well.
Should the order be approved, Apple and Google would be legally obligated to provide the private information, including IP addresses, phone numbers, names, etc. of all users of Obsidian 4. This would include personal details of many who aren't being investigated for illegally exporting ATN Corp's products. The application additionally states that the manufacturer itself is not under scrutiny.
Privacy activists maintain that should the order be approved with the end result being Apple and Google forking over private details of anybody who downloaded the app, this could set a very dangerous precedent going forward, including generating information on private citizens which could be used for tangential or wholly unrelated investigations without probable cause.
ATN Corp responded in a statement to American Military News that it had not been contacted by the DoJ or either of its app vendors (i.e. Apple and Google) regarding the application for the court order, and affirmed that it would continue to protect its customers by not releasing private information unless specifically required to under law.