Anybody who has looked into the history of the politics and legalities of firearms knows that the people who write and interpret laws regarding firearms are generally clueless about the subject matter. The same is true for technology (and possibly more so). The people who write and interpret laws regarding technology are almost always completely clueless about the subject matter. But what happens when you combine firearms and technology? An entirely new level of ignorance is unlocked:
On Monday, a federal court in Washington state blocked Cody Wilson and his company Defense Distributed from putting his 3D-printed gun schematic online. The court’s order—the latest in a years-long legal tussle that has picked up this summer—largely focuses on government rulemaking procedures, but a number of times it has to consider how technology works. When it does, it manages to get the technology remarkably wrong.
Perhaps the most comical of these is when the decision considers whether letting the schematic go online will cause “irreparable harm.” Most of the files are already online, Wilson’s attorneys argued, so what’s the harm in putting them up yet again? Yet the court disagreed, saying those online copies might be hard to find—only “a cybernaut with a BitTorrent protocol” could locate them “in the dark or remote recesses of the internet.”
If you think downloading a schematic for a firearm is insane, just want until you see what else I can do with a BitTorrent protocol! You’ll have to wait though since I’m short on BitTorrent protocols at the moment (please donate).
In addition to the use of the word cybernaut, I find it comical that the Internet Archive is considered a dark and remote recess of the Internet by this judge.
What should really stand out about this story though is that court officials who are entirely ignorant about the subject matter that they’re ruling on are allowed to make official rulings. When this judge issued their spiel about cybernauts using BitTorrent protocols to obtain schematics from the dark and remote recesses of the Internet, it had the force of law. If Defense Distributed violated this ruling, armed thugs with badges could be sent out to kidnap Cody Wilson or even kill him if he resisted their kidnapping attempt because an idiot in a magic muumuu has the power to make whatever they say an enforceable law. If that isn’t a great case against statism, I don’t know what is.