A U.S. district judge ruled this week that the State Department’s deal with Texas company Defense Distributed, which allowed it to legally publish plans to 3D-print a handgun, was an illegal reversal of a ruling made under President Obama.
President Trump’s State Department settled a lawsuit with Defense Distributed, led by self-proclaimed cryptoanarchist Cody Wilson, in June 2018, allowing it to share its CAD files for homemade guns. Numerous U.S. states filed suit in response, arguing that the State Department’s decision was unlawful. U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik agreed with their viewpoint.
“Given the agency’s prior position regarding the need to regulate 3D-printed firearms and the CAD files used to manufacture them, it must do more than simply announce a contrary position,” he wrote in his decision, via Bloomberg.
Defense Distributed’s view is that sharing the files is a matter of free speech, and lawyer Chad Flores told Bloomberg that the company will appeal the decision. The State Department is also reviewing the decision, and this back-and-forth may continue on for some time.
“The speech these states want so badly to censor is already on the internet and always will be,” said Flores.
He’s correct. While the verdict may halt the company’s own future spread of such files, and cause tech giants to keep access to such files off of their own platforms, Defense Distributed’s 3D-printed plans can still readily be found across the Internet, including immutable blockchain networks.
As Decrypt explored in August 2018, the company’s plans for “The Liberator” handgun can be found, among other places, on LBRY—a decentralized, “community-run digital marketplace” that acts like a “next-generation BitTorrent,” according to the site. Users download a browser client that is based around a native blockchain, and they are then able to share just about any file they please.
That’s just one example of a decentralized, blockchain-driven network that will continue to hold onto files regardless of legal changes and challenges. Finding the plans may not be as easy as searching Google, but so long as LBRY and other blockchain services persist, so too will access to the Defense Distributed files.