Early last month we covered a story which could ultimately have major implications for those living here in the US. Cody Wilson and his company Defense Distributed filed a suit against the US State Department alleging that Wilson’s First, Second, and Fifth Amendment Rights were violated upon the government’s request for immediate removal of the files for his Liberator 3D printable gun from the internet two years ago.
Since then we’ve spoken with several attorneys, many who believe that Wilson has a strong, but likely tough and drawn out case ahead of him, and Wilson himself agrees that it will be a long road ahead. Well that road may be about to get a little bumpier if President Barack Obama and the Department of State have their way.
Last week as part of the President’s Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative, the Department of State issued a notice in the Federal Register expressing their desire to make changes to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). These changes, we believe, would not only hurt Wilson’s future aspirations to distribute files online for both new and old 3D printable gun designs, but would likely choke off any other individual or group’s ability to share most gun-related design files online without fear of legal repercussions.
The President is looking to update many key definitions within ITAR, namely for the terms ‘technical data,’ ‘required,’ ‘public domain,’ ‘export,’ and ‘reexport or retransfer,’ among others. Additionally, “The Department proposes to create new sections detailing the scope of licenses, unauthorized releases of information, and the ‘release’ of secured information, and revises the sections on ‘exports’ of ‘’technical data’’ to US persons abroad.”
From Wilson’s standpoint, the most interesting changes come by way of the new revised definition the government proposes for ‘technical data,’ which is outlined in the following passage of the proposal:
“Paragraph (a)(1) also sets forth a broader range of examples of formats that ‘technical data’ may take, such as diagrams, models, formulae, tables, engineering designs and specifications, computer-aided design files, manuals or documentation, or electronic media, that may constitute ‘technical data.’”
Additionally, a revision to the definition of the term ‘required’ in ITAR would basically make any export of information regarding the construction of a particular weapon as serious a crime as actually exporting the weapon itself. For example a 3D model of a gun, or the instructions to build it, would be illegal to make available on the internet via forums, YouTube, social media, or any other method. Software would also now be considered a ‘defense article,’ meaning that the distribution of 3D models would be regulated under the new proposed ITAR amendment.
Basically what this means is that if these amendments are made, the posting of such files or information on the internet would be considered the exportation of illegal information, and thus could result in fines in the millions, or even jail time.
These proposed changes stem back from an executive order issued by President Obama on August 17, 2011. The Department of State will now provide 60 days for public comment, which will give you and I until August 3rd to tell them our thoughts on these new proposals. Anyone interested in commenting can do so by sending an email to DDTCPublicComments@state.gov with the subject line, ‘ITAR Amendment—Revisions to Definitions; Data Transmission and Storage.’
Let us know your thoughts on these proposed changes and whether or not you think that such changes are necessary. Discuss in the 3D Printed Gun ITAR Amendments forum thread on 3DPB.com. The complete proposal can be found here.