home Export Controls, Trade Security & Related Senate Fails to Control Distribution of Know-How of Digitally-generated “gun-like” devices

Senate Fails to Control Distribution of Know-How of Digitally-generated “gun-like” devices

The folks over at the non-profit Defense Distributed (DD), makers of the composite pistol, will be a little pleased. Despite efforts to control the production and distribution of the Liberator handgun, the Senate was unable to pass new laws controlling it manufacturer and distribution. But this was just an opening. I expect regulators will continue to seek ways, under existing laws and regulations to regulate folks such as Defense Distributed and others.

Earlier this year the State Department Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, enforcers of export controls for defense articles and related items, ordered DD to remove from their website blueprints that teach how to make a device called the Liberator handgun. You can read more about the Liberator digital device at DD’s website (link at the end of this post).

Technology, such as the Deep Web (called many other things) and 3D printers, is going to make it very difficult for governments to control the spread of digital shape know how. In fact, it will be impossible. With my very little knowledge of the web and how it works, a few mouse clicks and I found the DD blueprints that DD removed from their website after the U.S. Government told them to do so.

Judging from what policymakers said in recent months about this project, they have a great deal to learn. There is a lot more to this story than digitally-generated devices. Politicians and think tanks in this area keep using 20th century thinking to address an issue that most of society is barely starting to understand.

As this issue relates to export controls and economic sanctions, a review beyond existing reform efforts would be good. There are many national security and foreign policy equities that Congress and the Administration need to address.

Websites of interest:

  • Defense Distributed
  • State Department Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC)
  • Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)
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