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Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) files Amicus Brief in 3D printing Censorship Case

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The Obama administration is using the International Traffic in Arms Regulations to censor publication of information on the Internet.   The department ordered Defense Distributed to take down files for 3D printing of a simple single shot handgun on a website  owned by Defense Distributed.   Cody Wilson is widely considered to have been the inventor of the 3D printed pistol.

Defense Distributed joined with the Second Amendment Foundation to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration State Department for violation of their First, Second, and Fifth Amendment rights.    The case is Defense Distributed v. U.S. Department of StateThe case was filed on 5 May, 2015.

Alan Gura and Josh Blackman are representing  SAF and Defense Distributed.  They asked the court for a preliminary injunction against the State Department. 

The Federal District Court ruled in favor of the State Department.  That ruling is being appealed to the Fifth Circuit.  On December 10th, Defense Distributed and SAF submitted their Appellant’s brief.  It is an excellent summation of the issues involved.

The EFF is one of a number of organizations that have filed an Amicus brief in favor of Defense Distributed.   Others include members of the House of Representatives, the Cato Institute, and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.  On 17 December, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) submitted an Amicus Curiae brief in favor of Defense Distributed.    From the brief:

The licensing regime at issue in this case is a prior restraint that lacks the procedural safeguards required by the First Amendment to prevent discriminatory censorship decisions. It flies in the face of Supreme Court decisions that dictate how free speech interests are balanced with national security, such that speech is restrained only where absolutely necessary to prevent proven, immediate threats to concrete national security interests.

 The brief makes many cogent points.  One of them is this:

The scope of ITAR’s prohibition on speech could apply to members of the press republishing newsworthy technical data, professors educating the public on scientific and medical advances of public concern, enthusiasts sharing otherwise lawful information about firearms, domestic activists trading tips about how to treat tear gas or resist unlawful surveillance, and gun control opponents expressing a point about proliferation of weapons. Innocent online publication on certain topics is prohibited simply because a hostile foreign person could conceivably locate that information, use it to create something harmful, and use a harmful device against US interests. Speech cannot permissibly be repressed for such an attenuated and hypothetical government end.

Information about how to make weapons is not a weapon.  This is not classified information, nor are the weapons made secret military weapons. The Obama administration has crossed the line into censorship with this heavy-handed approach. 

The Fifth Circuit should reverse the District Court and find for the Plaintiffs.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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