Well that didn’t take long. Shortly after Defense Distributed released the first open source 3D printable gun the government has found an angle to try to stop it. According to the U.S. State Department posting the blueprints online for the 3D printable gun may have been a violation of U.S. export control laws.
On Thursday, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson received a letter from the State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanding that he take down the online blueprints for the 3D-printable “Liberator” handgun that his group released Monday, along with nine other 3D-printable firearms components hosted on the group’s website Defcad.org. The government says it wants to review the files for compliance with arms export control laws known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. By uploading the weapons files to the Internet and allowing them to be downloaded abroad, the letter implies Wilson’s high-tech gun group may have violated those export controls.
Pretty ham-handed and given that the U.S. is one of the largest small arms exporters in the world, hilarious. People are being killed all over the planet right now with American made handguns. Though the ship may have already sailed in any case.
While Defense Distributed says it will take down the gun’s printable file from Defcad.org, its downloads–100,000 in just the first two days the file was online–were actually being served by Mega, the New Zealand-based storage service created by ex-hacker entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, an outspoken U.S. government critic. It’s not clear whether the file will be taken off Mega’s servers, where it may remain available for download. The blueprint for the gun and other Defense Distributed firearm components have also been uploaded several times to the Pirate Bay, the censorship-resistant filesharing site.
Something tells me Kim Dotcom might not be bending over backwards to comply with any State Department requests.
Regardless of how the Defense Distributed case works out the 3D printing revolution will continue. This case may end up being to 3D printing for weapons what Napster was for peer to peer music sharing – the establishment winning the battle before losing the war. State power is growing weaker in the face of decentralizing technologies and all the lawsuits in the world won’t change that fact.