Defcad Fails Spectacularly
Defcad, the 3d file repository started by Defense Distributed to distribute their 3d printable gun files is shut down. Defense Distributed test fired a low quality zip gun earlier this week that was mostly 3d printed. The 3d files were released publicly on their “censorship free” 3d repository. In response, the U.S. Department of Defense Trade Controls has taken control of defcad and removed all links to the 3d files.
Defense Distributed billed defcad as a “unblockable open-source search engine for 3D parts”, and through crowdfunding raised $75,000 in donations. While the weapon design files are still available on github and The Pirate Bay and have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, the defcad website has no 3d files currently available. What could they have done differently?
Putting defcad on a server outside of the United States, where government controls could seize the domain, should have been obvious to anyone who has followed electronic censorship over the years. A site will not be unblockable until controlled by an entity unreachable by government intervention. Even ownership of the site by a US company makes it simple to track down the site founders and seize control. Running the site as an anonymous Tor site would have provided more safety, but that would make it much less public. From its beginning, Defense Distributed has sought as much publicity as possible with its bluster.
Taking money while advertising defcad as censorship free and unblockable was potentially fraudulent. Their crowdfunders should seek return of any funds given to Defense Distributed. Defense Distributed clearly has not delivered on any of their promises they have made about defcad.
The whole episode is just another example of Defense Distributed showing their inexperience and empty posturing. Professional engineers would have been able to produce working weapons in a few weeks. Instead, Defense Distributed spent months doing press appearances before revealing badly engineered zip guns. While they claimed they would be open source, the defcad website source code has never been released. The “unblockable” site has definitely been censored, even though Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson claimed on a promo video that “there will be no takedowns. Ever.” We wish people would stop paying attention to Defense Distributed, but they’ve been such an entertaining trainwreck and scare story for the media they probably won’t go away any time soon.