An announcement suddenly appearing on Defense Distributed's DEFCAD.org notifies visitors that the files containing 3D models of gun parts will no longer be available.
The announcement says:
DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.
Evidently the US government considers the availability of such 3D models a serious matter. But what exactly is the US Department of Defense Trade Controls? Their mission is:
The U.S. Government views the sale, export, and re-transfer of defense articles and defense services as an integral part of safeguarding U.S. national security and furthering U.S. foreign policy objectives. The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), in accordance with 22 U.S.C. 2778-2780 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) (22 CFR Parts 120-130), is charged with controlling the export and temporary import of defense articles and defense services covered by the United States Munitions List (USML).
Basically they ensure that weapons tech doesn't leak out of the US into the hands of potential enemies. But DEFCAD isn't exporting weapons, or are they?
We think a strong case could be made that they do. By offering the files freely for download, anyone in the world can download them - and that's exporting weapons data. Apparently the US Department of Defense Trade Controls thinks so, too.
We suspect that DEFCAD might be able to get back in business by implementing a mechanism to ensure only Americans may download, but that could be a stretch considering individual Americans may offer the files in an open manner once they have them, resulting in precisely the same scenario. Perhaps the US Department of Defense Trade Controls wants to keep a lid on this while they sort out what to do.