May 10, 2013
Feds Force Removal Of Printable Gun Blueprints From Web
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The State Department has ordered Texas-based non-profit Defense Distributed to remove digital blueprints for the world´s first 3D printable gun from its website, Defcad.com.
Founded by University of Texas law student Cory Wilson, the company removed the files on Thursday, as the federal government said they could represent a violation of the Arms Export Control Act.
Despite the removal of the files, it appears the plans for the first fully-functional, single-use printable plastic handgun have already been downloaded over 100,000 times. Moreover, the files could still be encrypted and residing somewhere on the servers, which are owned by internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom. Reports have said the plans are also already widely available on the file-sharing site Pirate Bay.
“[F]or now they're asserting information control over the technical data, because the Arms Information Control Act governs not just actual arms, but technical data, pictures, anything related to arms,” Wilson told Mother Jones.
According to the State Department, the sending of firearm manufacturing schematics to Kim Dotcom´s New Zealand-based servers constitutes a weapons "export" under the law.
After deleting the relevant files from his servers, Wilson sent out a Twitter message announcing the move. He told Mother Jones he hasn´t consulted with legal counsel yet but is optimistic about his prospects
"The practical, reasonable person should assume it's going to be a long time before it's back online," he said. "I don't like it–but I do think that it actually ends up helping the message of the project a little more, that, look, in the end we´re going to be having a fight about what it means to be controlling information."
Wilson has demonstrated the capabilities of the gun in online videos, which he made borrowing a 3D printer that typically costs several thousand dollars. A reporter for The Atlantic found many private facilities with 3D printing capabilities refused to print the gun for fear of violating federal law. He also found the costs associated with printing a gun are currently higher than simply purchasing a high quality weapon through conventional means.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has been outspoken against the printing and use of these guns and says legislation should be created to prevent people“¯from doing so.
According to Wilson, the plastic gun — dubbed “The Liberator” — is symbolic of his greater message of anti-government intervention in the digital world and the democratization of information. Wilson recently told PCMag he envisioned his company expanding their scope beyond firearms.
“The repurposed Defcad.com is to host all digital files related to 3D printing but especially those that would and will become controversial,” he said. “So we're interested in medical devices, we're interested in prosthetics, the things that you can only really make outside of claims of the FDA and other countries.
“And then, of course, we're interested in pushing the boundaries on intellectual property,” he added. “Because the only other thing that 3D printing seems to have been tweaking people with is your ability to replicate someone else's design. So I think it's a great starting point for revisiting our concepts of intellectual property.”