Less than a week ago, the world was abuzz about the release of a fully printable firearm. The topic was divisive, and even our own readers were split on whether this was an amazing breakthrough or a harbinger of future disaster. The files were posted online a couple of days later, allowing anyone with a 3D printer the ability to print their very own gun.
Today, Forbes reports that the United States Department of State has demanded the takedown of the blueprints for “the Liberator,” the name given to the printed firearm. The reason given for the takedown is that the files may be in violation of arms export control laws, specifically the International Traffic in Arms Regulation, due to the fact that the files are available for download by foreign countries. For their part, Defense Distributed has agreed to take the files down, although they made clear that it won’t stop the proliferation of the files since they’re now available on sites like Mega and the Pirate Bay.
It sounds like Cody Wilson, the man behind Defense Distributed and the person responsible for “the Liberator” fully expected this outcome. He’s trying to prove that information, once released, is available everywhere.
“This is the conversation I want. Is this a workable regulatory regime? Can there be defense trade control in the era of the Internet and 3D printing?”
It will be interesting to see whether the takedown notice will have any impact on the spread of the blueprints, or if it will only serve to bring more attention to the situation and convince people to download them from other sources. Regardless, Wilson is right about one thing: These are definitely conversations we need to start having as 3D printers become more and more common.
Source: Forbes | Image via Fobres