As reported by Betabeat.com, the State Department has asked Defense Distributed to remove its plans for the 'Liberator," the group's first fully 3D-printable gun.
BetaBeat's Jessica Roy spoke with Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson.
“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.”
The State Department regulates the export of technology that can be used to create weapons. The letter, which can be read below, asked Defense Distributed to "submit Commodity Jurisdiction (CJ) determination requests" for a variety of the group's offerings: the Liberator, a silencer tool, a muzzle brake, a front sight, and other items. CJ determination requests allow the State Department to gauge whether or not an item is covered by the U.S. Munitions List, the catalog of items for which the government won't allow export under the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Until those CJ determinations are made, the State Department's letter to the group reads, Defense Distributed "should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled."
Wilson told BetaBeat that he believes he is "immune" to the review procedures, though he nonetheless pulled the files. He told Roy, "This is a much bigger deal than guns. It has implications for the freedom of the web."
The files are still available on Mega.com, the New Zealand-based site Defense Distributed used for distribution. (Update, May 10: The files have been removed from Mega.) Earlier today, it was reported that the plans have already been downloaded 100,000 times, though it's not clear any weapons have been created.
In 2007, the new Apple Macintosh G4 was restricted for export by the State Department because the agency feared the speed of its processor could be used for military applications.
Read the letter from the State Department, via Betabeat.com.