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05/10/2013

U.S. orders removal of blueprints for 3D-printed gun from website

The website that distributed blueprints for a gun that could be made with a 3D printer has removed links to the download, complying with a U.S. government demand.

Two days after their release on the Internet, more than 100,000 computer users around the world have downloaded blueprints for the “Liberator."

But in a letter to the Defense Distributed, the group that posted the blueprints,  U.S. government officials warned founder Cody Wilson that he may have violated the International Traffic in Arms Regulation.

In a story on its website, The National Review reports that Wilson received this letter:

The Department of State, Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance, Enforcement Division (DTCC/END) is responsible for compliance with and civil enforcement of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2778) (AECA) and the AECA’s implementing regulations, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (22 C.F.R. Parts 120-130) (ITAR). The AECA and the ITAR impose certain requirements and restrictions on the transfer of, and access to, controlled defense articles and related technical data designated by the United States Munitions List (USML) (22 C.F.R. Part 121).

The DTCC/END is conducting a review of technical data made publicly available by Defense Distributed through its 3D printing website, DEFCAD.org, the majority of which appear to be related to items in Category I of the USML. Defense Distributed may have released ITAR-controlled technical data without the required prior authorization from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), a violation of the ITAR.

Technical data regulated under the ITAR refers to information required for the design, development, production, manufacture, assembly, operation, repair, testing, maintenance or modification of defense articles, including information in the form of blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, instructions or documentation. For a complete definition of technical data, see 120.10 of the ITAR. Pursuant to 127.1 of the ITAR, it is unlawful to export any defense article or technical data for which a license or written approval is required without first obtaining the required authorization from the DDTC. Please note that disclosing (including oral or visual disclosure) or tranferring technical data to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad, is considered an export under 120.17 of the ITAR.

The Department believes Defense Distributed may not have established the proper jurisdiction of the subject technical data. To resolve this matter officially, we request that Defense Distributed submit Commodity Jurisdiction (CJ) determination requests for the following selection of data files available on DEFCAD.org, and any other technical data for which Defense Distributed is unable to determine proper jurisdiction:

  1. Defense Distributed Liberator pistol
  2. .22 electric
  3. 125mm BK-14M high-explosive anti-tank warhead
  4. 5.56/.223 muzzle brake
  5. Springfield XD-40 tactical slide assembly
  6. Sound Moderator – slip on
  7. “The Dirty Diane” 1/2-28 to 3/4-16 STP S3600 oil filter silencer adapter
  8. 12 gauge to .22 CB sub-caliber insert
  9. Voltlock electronic black powder system
  10. VZ-58 sight

DTCC/END requests that Defense Distributed submits its CJ requests within three weeks of the receipt of this letter and notify this office of the final CJ determinations. All CJ requests must be submitted electronically through an online application using the DS-4076 Commodity Jurisdiction Request Form. The form, guidance for submitting CJ requests, and other relevant information such as a copy of the ITAR can be found on DDTC’s website at http://www.pmddtc.state.gov.

Until the Department provides Defense Distributed with the final CJ determinations, Defense Distributed should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled. This means that all such data shoudl be removed form public access immediately. Defense Distributed should also review the remainder of the data made public on its website to determine whether any additional data may be similarly controlled and proceed according to ITAR requirements.

Additionally, DTCC/END requests information about the procedures Defense Distributed follows to determine the classification of its technical data, to include aforementioned technical data files. We ask that you provide your procedures for determining proper jurisdiction of technical data within 30 days of the date of this letter to Ms. Bridget Van Buren, Compliance Specialist, Enforcement Division, at the address below.

Despite its removal, the file is still widely available on various Internet sites.

 

Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at the Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead

 

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