Monday, July 30, 2018

"Legality" of 3-D-printed plastic weapons and their supporting literature will surely lead to private platform censorship online



The State Department reportedly reached an agreement with Defense Distributed in Texas, and on Wednesday August 1anyone will be able to download instructions and materials from the company and print  a weapon at home.  The CNN story is here

It’s pretty obvious that there is a serious public safety issue at stake, as the CNN article points out big time.

But there will also be a speech and “first amendment” issue.  While lawful, social media companies (and YouTube) will certainly feel pressured by the public to ban these from their platforms (as YouTube does now with most other weapons-related directive material).  This pressure will even extend to hosting companies, who right now sometimes make operating private gun sale stores on their servers a violation of their AUP’s.  (That generally means most weapons companies would have to host their own servers.)  It could also extend to domain name registrars, as we saw after Charlottesville with extreme right wing sites.

Defense Distributed, however, has a fully active channel in YouTube with a substantial number of subscribers. I’m not sure how this fits into the YouTube TOS issue now.

Wired has a YouTube video on the issue.


David Hogg has tweeted about the issue (after I emailed him the first CNN story) and become quite vocal about the public safety dangers.  How will the TSA deal with this?

It probably is harder to make a weapon at home than the critics say, hopefully. I’m reminded of the downstream liability of PaladinPress in the 1990s.




Update: July 31

Federal Judge Robert Lasnik has at least temporarily blocked DD from releasing the blueprints online at midnight tonight, ABC11 story here. The plaintiffs included eight states and D.C.  

The company is run by Cody Wilson  (Arkansas).  Vox discussed Trump's ambiguous tweet here. Trump has conceded the NRA position that homemade weapons are illegal even if the plans to make them are not.  You get to a logical situation that could even parallel child pornography -- in trying to defend the plans with the First Amendment. 

So right now the link on this posting can not lead to these instructions. 

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