The US State Department yesterday said it had heard enough from Defence Distributed, the non-profit group at the centre of a 3-D gun printing controversy.
Cody Wilson, the 25-year old founder and self-described anarchist has been sent a three-page cease and desist letter dated Wednesday demanding that the group remove instructions for printing a handgun with a 3-D printer from its website.
A video, Wilson posted online, earlier this week, showed a single shot being fired from the ''The Liberator,'' a plastic handgun. Apart from a metal firing pin and a piece of metal included to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act, the gun was assembled entirely from parts made with a 3-D printer.
The Defense Distributed website, posted a one-line banner that read, "DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls." The documents had been totally removed yesterday.
According to analysts, the issue was whether Wilson had violated International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) by posting files on his website that would enable users to download and print firearms with 3-D printing technology.
"Defense Distributed may have released ITAR-controlled technical data without the required authorisation from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, a violation," the State Department's letter to Wilson said.
Wilson told Popular Science magazine in phone interview that he was disappointed, not surprised. And besides, he added, the blue print had been downloaded over 100,000 times by now.
What that meant was though he had complied with the state department and removed the files from his site, the files still existed elsewhere on the internet. A lot of the downloads had happened through the online file-hosting service Mega, based in New Zealand, and the peer-to-peer file sharing site Pirate Bay had copies too.
According to Wilson, this was the first time the State Department had got in touch with him, even though the site already hosted blueprints for gun parts and featured ammunition magazines named after a sitting senator and governor. He added they had now basically suggested that he needed to ask for permission for basically all of the files hosted.
The Department of State specifically named 12 files in the takedown notice, but the language implied that all files hosted were up for review.
Meanwhile, Wilson has contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation for help in countering what he saw was an infringement on free speech rights.