UCA alumnus Cody Wilson was a prominent student government figure at his alma mater before international media named him a leading anarchist in the digital realm.
Wilson, 26, made headlines in 2013 with the Liberator, a 3D gun he designed made mostly of plastic, and continues to create controversy as a leading proponent of crypto-anarchism.
His 3D gun project blueprints were posted online and later removed, at the request of the State Department. According to the Associated Press, the blueprints were downloaded more than 100,000 times.
Named after the FP-45 Liberator pistol designed for mass production during World War II, the 3D printed gun is also a symbol of government resistance.
Wilson’s latest project is a Dark Wallet that serves as a wallet for the online currency Bitcoin, a mechanism for breaking free from monetary regulation.
Bitcoin is primarily digital, exists without a central authority and offers no form of balance insurance, according to a Forbes article.
Wilson’s projects are part of his work at Defense Distributed, a non-profit organization “dedicated to striking the roots of all statist monopolism,” according to its website.
He runs the operation from his apartment near the University of Texas – Austin, a university he attended law school at and later dropped out of to pursue free-market projects.
One of the most dangerous people in the world, according to Wired magazine, Wilson has made a name for himself with projects that seek to remove government from all aspects of a person’s private life.
He graduated as an honors student from UCA in 2010 with a degree in English.
While on campus, he was SGA executive president and was a Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity member.
Wilson credits his political views to UCA, where he said his anarchist views were finalized and polished through research in Torreyson Library.
He considers himself to be of the libertarian mindset and is broadly anarchist with an anti-state philosophy. Wilson said the American project is primarily of limited state government.
Wilson said a course on English poet John Milton during his junior year at UCA was a major influence for him while he developed the Defense Distributed organization. English professor Raymond-Jean Frontain taught the course.
“For like the first eight months, [I] was [reading]Milton’s ‘Areopagitica’ and his great speech about why printing shouldn’t be a license.”
Though the course influenced him greatly, he said his time in SigEp influenced his politics the most, pulling him away from liberal thinking.
“Fraternity life speaks to something beyond [liberal life],” he said.
Wilson’s Dark Wallet project with developer Amir Taaki is expected to launch this year. With its potential use as an anonymous online currency, Bitcoin has been deemed a possible easy target for cybercriminals by lawmakers and law enforcement officials.
The U.S. Senate, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission are among the government entities who are keeping close watch on Bitcoin operations.
Despite the objections, Wilson said anonymous cash flow is needed online.
“It almost goes without saying,” he said. “People have to be able to just have a liquid means of exchange. And specifically one that doesn’t have surveillance baggage.”
An individual with the alias Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin in 2009 as an online method for purchasing merchandise anonymously.
Many lawmakers and federal agencies have expressed concerns about the online currency such as the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FCEN), calling it a threat and a leading proponent for money laundering.
Others such as former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have expressed that the Federal Reserve doesn’t have the means to regulate the online currency.
“Legally, the United States has chosen not to treat it as money or currency specifically and that’s important,” Wilson said.
Wilson said Defense Distributed is trying to reclaim the tradition of consensus, purist Bitcoin.
“Bitcoin is the way to leave,” he said. “The idea is that there is no political program that can reverse a Bitcoin transaction. It also links to the cyber policy. You can’t point a gun at a math problem. It’s not solved that way.”
About half of all Americans know what Bitcoin is but the majority don’t trust it and consider other forms of currency more efficient, according to a survey on CNBC.com.
“What I’m trying to do is not change people’s minds about it that [Bitcoin] is illegal or something,” he said.
Wilson said people either don’t know what Bitcoin truly is or don’t know what to think of it as an emerging form of currency.
“I think… most people are dumbfounded [by its existence],” he said. “They haven’t even come to grips with it.”
In a Defense Distributed video posted to YouTube, Wilson explained Dark Wallet’s intent and reasoning.
Wilson said Defense Distributed isn’t trying to win the narrative war specifically and that any objections, especially from the federal government, are generally unjustified.
“I accuse most of them of bad conscience basically or not actually being concerned about [online currency],” he said. “The IRS guidance now refers to Bitcoin as a property, not a currency.”
Politically speaking, Wilson said many Millennials have made a greater distinction between something that is illegal and something that is wrong, allowing for individuals to decide for themselves what is appropriate.
“I think what we’re going to start seeing, if we’re not already seeing it, is that there is a ton of human activity that is illegal but we all recognize or at least don’t have respect for the laws that make it illegal,” he said.
Some of the current actions he considers overregulated include file sharing, intellectual property and rights sharing.
“The structural features of the 20th century [have been imposed]on the 21st, which has become much more liquid,” he said. “There aren’t industrial monopolies anymore.”
Wilson said more people may consider that something isn’t bad for society over time but stressed that legalizing acts isn’t a necessary alternative.
“I don’t prefer legalization because I think legalization comes with a bevy of regulatory [actions],” he said. “I prefer decriminalization.”
He referenced increasing approval of marijuana and other long-standing social taboos as a reason why government shouldn’t regulate based on morality.
Wilson said a primetime television special is in the works about the Dark Wallet project’s launch and is expected to air soon. He did not provide any additional details about the network or airtime.