DOJ orders Apple, Google to hand over names of gun scope app users

With Congress reconvening this week, a bucket list of anti-Second Amendment gun control legislation is about to be shoved down America’s throat.

Of course, as they do on every day ending in “y,” Democrats are prepared to advance bills designed to chip away at the Second Amendment. Already on the docket are bills to outlaw large-capacity magazines, provide grants to “encourage” states to adopt red flag laws, and prevent people convicted of a misdemeanor “hate crime” from owning a weapon.

Unfortunately, just as Republicans do on every day ending in “y,” they’re prepared to pretend to object to these Democrat bills while offering a “conservative” alternative, which in the end, is the same legislation, only with an “R” after it.

Proof of this frightening reality is found in the recent bipartisan agreement reached on Lindsey Graham’s bill to federalize red flag laws, and Marco Rubio’s pre-crime bill known as the Threat Assessment, Prevention and Safety (TAPS) Act — a bill that will be used to “predict” the likelihood of someone committing a crime using a firearm and then denying them the right to own one in order to prevent the crime from occurring.

Meanwhile, while this has going on in Congress, Trump has been busy working under the radar on some ideas straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how Trump was working on an idea where government would team up with companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon to spy on people in their homes. A government agency known as the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA), which would operate inside the Health and Human Services Department, would use Apple Watch, Amazon Echo, Google Home, and other technology to collect data used to identify individuals who exhibit characteristics of mental illness that could lead to violent behavior and then use that info to deny them their gun rights.

While the HARPA program will require legislation to become a reality — highly probable in the current political climate — Trump isn’t sitting on his ever-widening laurels. Instead, he’s working on other ways to use technology in the name of gun control.

We’ve recently learned that Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a court order demanding that Apple and Google hand over the names, phone numbers, IP addresses, and any other identifying data of the thousands of buyers of an app known as Obsidian 4. The app is used to calibrate rifle scopes manufactured by American Technologies Network, Corp. (ATN).

This data grab is motivated by an investigation being conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in search of illegal exports of the ATN scope, which falls under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR). ATN isn’t directly under investigation.

If granted by the court and Apple and Google comply, the government would receive data on gun owners and others who haven’t committed a crime, nor had any involvement with any crimes being investigated.

Tom Ekeland, a privacy-focused lawyer, calls the DOJ request a “fishing expedition” where the government would have access to information unrelated to their investigation, and he warned that the government could make unconstitutional data demands like these in a number of ways with other apps.

“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,” stated Ekeland. “They don’t have any probable cause to investigate, but they’re getting data on them.”

Former NSA analyst Jake Williams agrees. In response to this latest bit of news concerning government spying, he said, “The idea that this data will only be used for pursuing ITAR violations is almost laughable.”

Laughable could be a poor choice of words … because there’s nothing funny about how Trump and the GOP are working with Democrats to destroy the Second Amendment.


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative.

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