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State moves to remove 3D printed gun blueprints from the web

Posting in Government

The State Department has began moving to try and force downloadable blueprints for 3D weaponry offline.

The Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance has forced Cody Wilson, creator of Defcad.org, to take down files which detail the specifications required to build the "Liberator" handgun. Under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), less than a week after being posted, the files are being withdrawn based on the idea that the CAD files should be removed from the public gaze. In addition, the government is arguing that by allowing the files to be downloaded abroad, Wilson is breaking ITAR terms.

A State Department order sent to Wilson by the office says:

"Until the Department provides Defense Distributed with final [commodity jurisdiction] determinations, Defense Distributed should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled."

Although the gun developer has to comply with the order, the fact that the blueprints -- which allow anyone with access to a 3D printer to manufacture their own 3D-printed handgun -- have already been downloaded over 100,000 times makes controlling distribution very difficult.

In addition, torrent search website The Pirate Bay now indexes multiple copies of the files, with over 2,000 people on each file now "seeding" (hosting) the blueprints for others to acquire.

According to Forbes, Wilson believes the U.S. government's attempts to shut down the file downloads can be compared with abandoned attempts to censor military-standard encryption software in the 1990s, where public pressure eventually forced the government to capitulate.

Considering the speed and avenues that files can be shared, duplicated and transferred across the Internet -- especially when a file is downloadable via torrent -- it's likely that the government has no real power to stop the blueprints from being acquired and potentially used, whether or not Wilson hosts the blueprints himself.

Read More: Forbes

Image credit: Defense Distributed

— By on May 10, 2013, 2:54 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure