Feds Go Fishing Over A Gun Scope App
Feds Go Fishing Over A Gun Scope App
This sounds like something that San Francisco would like to do, given that they have been busy declaring the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization.” But this is the federal government, and this is infintely worse.
Forbes is reporting that the Department of Justice is seeking a court order to make Apple and Google turn over the data on anyone who has downloaded a specific gun scope app. Holy Big Brother, Batman.
According to an application for a court order filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on September 5, investigators want information on users of Obsidian 4, a tool used to control rifle scopes made by night-vision specialist American Technologies Network Corp. The app allows gun owners to get a live stream, take video and calibrate their gun scope from an Android or iPhone device. According to the Google Play page for Obsidian 4, it has more than 10,000 downloads. Apple doesn’t provide download numbers, so it’s unclear how many iPhone owners could be swept up in this latest government data grab.”
If the court approves the demand, and Apple and Google decide to hand over the information, it could include data on thousands of people who have nothing to do with the crimes being investigated, privacy activists warned. Edin Omanovic, lead on Privacy International’s State Surveillance program, said it would set a dangerous precedent and scoop up “huge amounts of innocent people’s personal data.”
That is the very definition of a fishing expedition. There couldn’t possibly be actual real-world application for downloading an app that allows for calibration of a specific gun scope, right? All 10,000 downloads are suspect, right? This is all at the request of ICE, who admits that the company itself isn’t under investigation, but they have intercepted the gun scopes.
ICE has repeatedly intercepted illegal shipments of the scope, which is controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), according to the government court filing. They included shipments to Canada, the Netherlands and Hong Kong where the necessary licenses hadn’t been obtained.”
So ICE’s rationale is that they want to find out who has downloaded the app, in order to track back who is illegally shipping the scopes themselves??
Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope. There is no way to spin this that doesn’t amount to a huge infringement on privacy, all for an app download. This isn’t even looking at the people who actually purchased said gun scope, JUST WHO DOWNLOADED THE APP. If the company isn’t under investigation for this, then why are the users of the app being targeted? ATN even offers YouTube videos on how to set up the app on different devices!
There has been no response to the story from Google or Apple so far, and I’m sure that the DOJ (who apparently got the order sealed just after Forbes got a copy of it, per their reporting) just wanted to lean on the two tech companies to get the information. “After all, it’s only 10,000 downloads! Don’t you want to help us catch bad guys, hmmm? What would people say if the next mass shooter used this gun scope app and YOU didn’t help us stop it?”
This is fishing and incrementalism at its worst. The feds want the information with no concrete cause, and if Apple and Google cave for just this app (because GUN SCOPE APP BAD), then what happens when it’s the next app (“we just want to know who downloaded OKCupid in the last month to catch this bad guy,”) or the next app (“which parents are using GPS tracker apps to watch their special needs children?”) or the next app (“Disney, we need to know who used your My Disney Experience Mobile app in the last year. Because reasons. Here’s the court order”).
First, let’s hope the court tells the feds no, and at least makes them come back with a better argument than this – and then still tells them no. And let’s hope that Apple and Google say no as well, or there will be no stopping the federal government from data mining the big tech companies for whatever whim strikes them. Big Brother, indeed.