Full profile →'">
The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
If gun control advocates hoped to prevent blueprints for the world's first fully 3D-printable gun from spreading online, that horse has now left the barn about a hundred thousand times.
That's the number of downloads of the 3D-printable file for the so-called "Liberator" gun that the high-tech gunsmithing group Defense Distributed has seen in just the last two days, a member of the group tells me. The gun's CAD files have been ten times more popular than any component the group has previously made available, parts that have included the body of an AR-15 and the magazine for an AK-47."This has definitely been our most well-received download," says Haroon Khalid, a developer working with Defense Distributed. "I don't think any of us predicted it would be this much."
Новая информация: Государственный департамент США потребовал от Defense Distributed изъять файлы из свободного доступа в связи с возможным нарушением правил экспортного контроля.
The controversial gun-printing group is hosting those files, which include everything from the gun's trigger to its body to its barrel, on a service that has attracted some controversy of its own: Kim Dotcom's Mega storage site. Although the blueprint is only publicly visible on Defense Distributed's own website Defcad.org, users who click on it are prompted to download the collection of CAD files from Mega.co.nz, which advertises that it encrypts all users' information and has a reputation for resisting government surveillance. Update: Mega now says it's deleting the gun files from its servers, and Kim Dotcom has declared the weapon a "serious threat to the security of the community."
Cody Wilson, Defense Distributed's 25-year-old founder, says that the group chose to use Mega mostly because it was fast and free. Также Уилсон указал, что он в определенной степени понимает действия Кима Доткома, главы Mega, в прошлом компьютерного взломщика, который неоднократно высказывал критические замечания в адрес властей США после попыток инкриминировать предпринимателю вымогательство и нарушение авторских прав в начале 2012 года. "We're sympathetic to Kim Dotcom," says Wilson. "There are plenty of services we could have used, but we chose this one. He's down for the struggle."
The most downloads of Defense Distributed's "Liberator," surprisingly, haven't come from the U.S., but from Spain, according to Khalid's count. The U.S. is second, ahead of Brazil, Germany, and the U.K., he says, although he wasn't able to provide absolute download numbers for each country.
Новая информация: Хотя изначально Испания опережала США по числу скачиваний, на текущий момент американские пользователи захватили пальму первенства.
The gun's blueprint, of course, may have also already spread far wider than Defense Distributed can measure. It's also been uploaded to the filesharing site the Pirate Bay, where it's quickly become one of the most popular files in the site's 3D-printing category. "This is the first in what will become an avalanche of undetectable, untraceable, easy-to-manufacture weapons that will turn the tables on evil-doers the world over," writes one user with the name DakotaSmith on the site. "Share and enjoy."
It's worth noting that only a fraction of those who download the printable gun file will ever try to actually create one. Defense Distributed used an $8,000 second-hand Stratasys Dimension SST to print their prototype, a 3D printer that the vast majority of its fans won't have access to.
Nonetheless the "Liberator," which I first revealed last Friday and then witnessed being test-fired over the weekend, has caused an enormous stir online. По сообщениям компании в течение двух дней с момента публикации о выпуске чертежей пистолета для 3D-печати ее веб-сайт посетили 540 000 человек, а на YouTube было зарегистрировано 2,8 миллионов просмотров видео-ролика с демонстрацией пистолета.
Проект также вызвал реакцию со стороны законодательной власти. New York congressmen Steve Israel and Chuck Schumer have both called for the renewal of the Undetectable Firearms Act to ban any gun that can't be spotted with a metal detector.
But Defense Distributed's real goal hasn't been to create an undetectable gun so much as an uncensorable, digital one. As the group's founder radical libertarian founder Cody Wilson sees it, firearms can be made into a printable file that blurs the line between gun control and information censorship, blending the First Amendent and the Second and demonstrating how technology can render the government irrelevant.
"Call me crazy, but I see a world where contraband will pass underground through the data cables to be printed in our homes as the drones move overhead," Wilson said when we first spoke in August of last year. "I see a kind of poetry there…I dream of this very weird future and I’d like to be a part of it."
Follow me on Twitter, and check out my new book, This Machine Kills Secrets: How WikiLeakers, Cypherpunks and Hacktivists Aim To Free The World’s Information.
Related on Forbes: