Defense Distributed was instructed to take down the CAD files for the Liberator, a single-shot 3D printed plastic gun, by the US State Department:
Defense Distributed, the Texas-based nonprofit that wants to empower people to 3D print their own guns, has hit a bit of a legal snag. According to founder Cody Wilson, DEFCAD, the open source weapon-printing project powered by Defense Distributed, received a letter (embedded below) from the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Compliance, telling him to remove the blueprints of the Liberator, his 3D printed gun, from the web so that they may be reviewed by the department.
The group’s website currently has a red banner appended to the top that reads, “DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.”
“We got an official letter from the Secretary of State, telling me who they were, what their authority was under U.S. law and telling me they want to review these files to see if they’re class one munitions,” Mr. Wilson told Betabeat by phone. “That includes blueprints.”
In the letter, embedded below, the State Department says that Defense Distributed may have released data that is controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulation without getting prior authorization. This would put the company’s actions in conflict with–oh boy–the Arms Export Control Act.
“Please note that disclosing (including oral or visual disclosure) or transferring technical data to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad, is considered an export,” reads the letter. It also says that until Defense Distributed has received the legal all-clear, the company “should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled. This means that all such data should be removed from public access immediately.”
Keep in mind, this is the very same State Department that sends tanks, jet fighters, and missiles to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. But the freely distributed plans for a single-shot plastic pistol is somehow considered sufficient cause to justify violating the First and Second Amendments.
Forget Pirate Bay and the thousands of torrents that are already distributing the files, given that the zipfile is only 2 megs, it seems to me that a few patriotic virus programmers should be able to see that they are rapidly distributed to millions of computers around the world regardless of what the State Department has to say about it.
And if they think they’ve got problems now, just wait until home genetics become as accessible as 3D-printed firearms. It will bring back the old fears of witchcraft; I can imagine that the unauthorized possession of another individual’s hair and nail clippings, or at least a government employee’s, will becomes a crime.