State Department orders firm to remove 3D-printed guns web blueprintsDefense Distributed tweeted on Thursday that 'Liberator' project had 'gone dark' at the request of government officials
Amanda Holpuch, Ewen MacAskill in New York and Charles Arthur in London
May. 10, 2013
The US government has blocked a Texas-based company from distributing details online of how to make a plastic gun using a 3-D printer.
The ban, by the State Department citing international arms control law, comes just days after the world's first such gun was successfully fired.
Defense Distributed, the company that made the prototype, stated on Twitter that its project had "gone dark" at the instigation of the government.
The company is run by Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old University of Texas law student who has said the idea for freely distributing details about how to produce the guns online was inspired by 19th century anarchist writing. Wilson argues everyone should have access to guns.
A State Department spokesman said: "Although we do not comment on whether we have individual ongoing compliance matters, we can confirm that the department has been in communication with the company."
The action came too late to prevent widespread distribution of the files: Defense Distributed told Forbes that the files have already been downloaded more than 100,000 times in the two days since they were uploaded. The largest number of downloads initially were to addresses in Spain, followed by the US, Brazil, Germany and the UK.
Fifteen of the gun's 16 pieces are constructed on the $8,000 Stratasys Dimension SST 3D printer, Forbes said. The final piece is a common nail, used as a firing pin, that can be found in a hardware store.
Betabeat posted a copy of the letter reportedly sent by the Department of State to Wilson. The department said the blueprints had to be taken offline because they may contain data regulated by the State Department. The departement said it would review the files.
"I immediately complied and I've taken down the files," Wilson told Betabeat. "But this is a much bigger deal than guns. It has implications for the freedom of the web."