Do You Own A Scope? The Feds Are Trying To Track You


Anyone who has spent time sport shooting (hunting, target practice, etc.) knows how useful a scope can be and, frankly, how practical that they can be. But with a focus that would be typical of anti-gunners on the few of the times that scopes are used for evil purposes, the Feds are trying to keep tabs on people who own scopes.

This specific incidence of an attempt to violate our basic right to privacy comes from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and involves users of the app Obsidian 4. Thomas Brewster writes,

Own a rifle? Got a scope to go with it? The U.S. government might soon know who you are, where you live and how to reach you.

That’s because the government wants Apple and Google to hand over names, phone numbers and other identifying data of at least 10,000 users of a single gun scope app, Forbes has discovered. It’s an unprecedented move: Never before has a case been disclosed in which American investigators demanded personal data of users of a single app from Apple and Google. And never has an order been made public where the feds have asked the Silicon Valley giants for info on so many thousands of people in one go.

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.” 

“Such orders need to be based on suspicion and be particularized—this is neither,” Omanovic added.

Neither Apple nor Google had responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. ATN, the scope maker, also hadn’t responded.

Now, the DOJ is seeking this information in connection with concerns that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has about the possible exporting of weapons technology which could violate U.S. laws. Also, the maker of the app isn’t under investigation for doing anything wrong.


But, let’s be frank here, attempting to grab this kind of information about users of a legal app is a huge violation or our right to privacy. And this is the kind of information that tends to be abused by people with warped intentions (like anti-gunners) even if the information was collected for a morally upright purpose. We must always watch out for those ugly unintended consequences which violations of rights bring about.

Let’s hope that the court hearing this request from the DOJ has the good sense and the loyalty to the Constitution to deny it. Whether they do or not, you need to be aware of who has your information and how it can be used against you.




  2. Since all I-Phones have a built in GPS, here’s a simple software solution that the creator of the Obsidian 4 app can incorporate into the app.

    Every time the app is used the first thing it dos is check to see if it is in the United States via GPS. If YES than it runs like normal. BUT if it finds that it is not than it runs a little built in subroutine that deletes the app from from the phone.

      • No
        The presumed scope owner could reinstall the app after returning to the US. Restricted exports can include programs and if somebody has a copy outside the US it is smuggling export restricted technology by definition.
        My problem is it is possible to hack the GPS to get any return the hacker wants defeating that protection, I admit I do not have a better solution.

  3. I guess for once, I’m kinda glad I can’t afford one of those ATN scopes I want so badly! It’s truly sad that our government is so he’ll bent on taking control of the people that we are going to have to have an armed civil uprising to take our government back at this point from the corrupt people in charge now.

    • Exactly right! I wish I had a scope for my rifle that is probably 100 years old now. I am almost 100, too. This kind of crap absolutely infuriates me.

      More and more I think we should either isolate all cities that don’t want to be part of the USA considering the fact the makers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights intended for us to be a union or we needs an armed civil uprising to take our government back or we join the Convention of States and start talking about splitting off from the parts of those states that have decided the USA is not to their liking. Or looking at other alternatives. Nobody in Congress today in PA or in the US Congress seems to represent me…. I think our Supreme Court is getting closer than it has been in tens of years. And the Executive Branch seems fraught with turncoats, traitors, and those that are in it for a sinecure.
      Yet, I have done nothing except be an excellent citizen. There is something really wrong with our government and it has gotten worse and worse in the last 50 years. Perhaps we need a clarion call to reestablish respect for each person’s religion or spiritual belief system as The do unto Others as You would have Them do unto you screed has it (just for your information Islam does not have such a statement in its lists of do and do nots) and we need to promote respect and understanding for the Constitution and Bill of Rights. No other nation in the world with the nonhomogeneous population has such a wonder Constitution and Bill of Rights.

  4. so here we go again making something of nothing ! gee you might think it was a good idea to keep hi-tech fr our enemies who well might use it to SHOOT one of our soldiers!
    clearly they are trying to keep the tech fr our enemies ! do you really think they are going to use it to go after law-abiding citizens? they don’t have enough folks to do it and they are not going to ! clearly, they want to know who is EXPORTING IT! I want them to know too and SO should you !
    As a 100% disabled vet I sure do !
    quit being chicken little and thinking the sky is falling !

  5. All the more reason to stick with simpler and more basic scope designs. Whether or not they succeed in gettinh the courts to go along with this, the fact that your phone provider and the App provider can access your information with little difficulty (a few strokes of the keyboard) should concern anyone owning one. Much like “Smart” guns, do you really trust a third party to not interfere with the coding. If a rebellion was starting and the government had the ability to inactivate thousands of weapons with the push of a button, do you really think they wouldn’t push it? If you do I have some new antiques you might be interested in.
    Call me paranoid, but we’re talking politicians and bureaocrats here, and quite frankly, their track record sucks ass.

  6. as these bureaucrats answer Congress, try electing members of Congress who support your views

  7. I _____ do solemnly swear to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States against al enemies both foreign and DOMESTIC ….

  8. The feds have alot of room to talk. They MURDER more people them all of US combined. I never have trusted them. Have tried to trust the agents of the state. But they too are corrupt. The whole justice (JUST US) system is corrupt and DANGEROUS. PREPARE.

  9. They going to take iron sights off rifles since the government trained the military to shoot targets 500 yards out with them. I call Forbes BS

  10. That blindfolded lady is just weighing fish, folks
    Can there really be equal justice for all?? Just look
    at what’s going down people, what they are doing to OUR DULY ELECTED PRESIDENT AND THE ADMINISTRATION.

  11. You have to wonder, just what is our government doing against We The People ? The second Amendment was to stop the government from taking us over. This gave us a way to fight back and overthrow the corrupt government. Now, the government is much more corrupt than anyone can believe. But to over throw us they need to do a couple things, one is to disarm us and take away all possibilities of us to fight back, secondly; once this is done the military who should protect We The People will not. At this point we was l become a police state and it’s not as far off as you might believe.

  12. I’m so poor I can’t afford one of those ATN scopes, and I hate to try using my phone with a rifle anyway.
    Right now I don’t own a rifle, but I’m not antigun, I just can’t afford any of them at this time,, I do however own one or two rifle scopes, just no rifles to put them on.
    One of my scopes has a flashlight and a red dot laser on it , I got this one for one of my pellet guns, but, since it would be stupid to use it in the house, it is put away in my closet with the rest of the tools I don’t get to use.

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