Pretending That Instructions To Print A Gun Aren't Out There Won't Change The Reality That They Are
from the why-can't-our-government-live-in-reality dept
We recently had an article about how intellectual property makes people pretend to be stupid, by forcing us to pretend that digital works act in the same way as physical products do, even though we know that they don’t. This seems silly, but it goes beyond just copyright. There’s been a lot of hubbub recently concerning 3D printed guns. While there’s been some discussions about them in the past, it went into overdrive last week when the first fully 3D-printed gun was unveiled. The plans were uploaded online and… over 100,000 people downloaded them.
And then the US government freaked out, as the State Department argued that the company that put the files online may have violated export control laws.
The government says it wants to review the files for compliance with arms export control laws known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. By uploading the weapons files to the Internet and allowing them to be downloaded abroad, the letter implies Wilson’s high-tech gun group may have violated those export controls.
“Until the Department provides Defense Distributed with final [commodity jurisdiction] determinations, Defense Distributed should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled,” reads the letter, referring to a list of ten CAD files hosted on Defcad that include the 3D-printable gun, silencers, sights and other pieces. “This means that all data should be removed from public access immediately. Defense Distributed should review the remainder of the data made public on its website to determine whether any other data may be similarly controlled and proceed according to ITAR requirements.”
Remember, this file has already been downloaded over 100,000 times. It’s not going to be removed from public access. That’s reality. But the laws that demand we pretend to be stupid include pretending that something like this is stoppable, when plenty of sites are still making them available.
As Rick Falkvinge notes, the whole idea of pretending you can delete these files from existence and keep it under control suggests a very confused US government. Not only is the concept impossible, but even stepping in like that has only drawn much more attention to the files. Falkvinge points out that this highlights how the US government is “unfit to set and shape Internet policy, due to their simply not understanding of what the internet is and how it works.” Of course, that hasn’t stopped them before.
I recognize that a 3D printable gun freaks some people out. But just because some people are freaked out, it doesn’t mean we should deny reality and pretend it’s possible to disappear these plans when it’s clearly not. I don’t know about you, but I prefer a government that deals in reality, rather than one that chooses to act stupid on purpose.