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Wilson in Austin 2012
Cody Rutledge Wilson
January 31, 1988
|Alma mater||University of Central Arkansas (B.A., 2010)|
|Occupation||Director of Defense Distributed|
|Known for||Defense Distributed|
Cody Rutledge Wilson (born January 31, 1988) is an American crypto-anarchist, free-market anarchist, and gun-rights activist. Until he resigned after being arrested on a sexual assault charge, he was best known as a founder/director of Defense Distributed, a non-profit organization that develops and publishes open source gun designs, so-called "wiki weapons", suitable for 3D printing and digital manufacture. He is a co-founder of the Dark Wallet bitcoin storage technology.
Wired Magazine's "Danger Room" named Wilson one of "The 15 Most Dangerous People in the World" in 2012. In 2015 and 2017 Wired named Wilson one of the five most dangerous people on the Internet. In September 2018, he was charged with sexual assault of a minor, in Austin, Texas, and was subsequently arrested in Taiwan.
Wilson graduated from the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) with a bachelor's degree in English in 2010, where he had a scholarship. While at UCA, Wilson was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and was elected president of UCA's Student Government Association. He traveled to China with UCA's study-abroad program.
In 2012, Wilson and associates at Defense Distributed started the Wiki Weapon Project to raise funds for designing and releasing the files for a 3D printable gun. At the time Wilson was the project's only spokesperson; he called himself "co-founder" and "director."
Learning of Defense Distributed's plans, manufacturer Stratasys threatened legal action and demanded the return of a 3D printer it had leased to Wilson. On September 26, 2012, before the printer was assembled for use, Wilson received an email from Stratasys suggesting he was using the printer "for illegal purposes". Stratasys immediately cancelled its lease with Wilson and sent a team to confiscate the printer.
While visiting the office of the ATF in Austin to inquire about legalities related to his project, Wilson was interrogated by the officers there. Six months later, he was issued a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to manufacture and deal.
In May 2013, Wilson successfully test-fired a pistol called "the Liberator" that reportedly was made using a Stratasys Dimension series 3D printer purchased on eBay. After test firing, Wilson released the blueprints of the gun's design online through a Defense Distributed website. The State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanded that Wilson remove the files, threatening prosecution for violations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
On May 6, 2015, Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation filed a lawsuit against the State Department claiming a violation of their First Amendment rights to free speech. On July 10, 2018, it was reported that the company won this lawsuit and would begin again its work at DEFCAD.
In 2013, Wilson, along with Amir Taaki, began work on a Bitcoin cryptocurrency wallet called Dark Wallet, a project by which he planned to help anonymize financial transactions. He appeared on behalf of the Dark Wallet project at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas in 2014.
On U.S. election day, November 4, 2014, Wilson announced in an interview that he would stand for election to a seat on the Board of Directors of the Bitcoin Foundation, with "the sole purpose of destroying the Foundation." And Wilson stated: "I will run on a platform of the complete dissolution of the Bitcoin Foundation and will begin and end every single one of my public statements with that message."
In 2017, Wilson launched Hatreon, a website that provided crowdfunding and payment services for groups and individuals who were banned from crowd-funders such as Kickstarter, Patreon, PayPal, and Stripe. It was notable for featuring the controversial alt-right personalities Andrew Anglin and Richard Spencer.
Wilson said that Hatreon clients included "right-wing women, people of color, and transgender people," but according to Adam Popescu of Bloomberg News, most of the donations went to white supremacists. According to Hannah Shearer, staff attorney at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Hatreon users were inciting violence contrary to Hatreon’s terms of service, which forbid illegal activity.
The site claimed to have received about $25,000 a month in donations, an amount that was "doubling from month to month." Hatreon took a 5-percent cut of donations.
In November 2017, Visa suspended Hatreon and the site became dormant.
Wilson claims an array of influences from anti-state and libertarian political thinkers, including leftist market anarchists like the mutualist scholar Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, capitalist libertarians such as the Austrian School scholar Hans-Herman Hoppe, and classical liberals including Frederic Bastiat. His political thought has been compared to the "conservative revolutionary" ideas of Ernst Jünger. Jacob Siegel wrote that "Cody Wilson arrives at a place where left, right—and democracy—disappear" and that he oscillates "somewhere between anarch and anarchist."
Wilson is an avowed crypto-anarchist, and has discussed his work in relation to the cypherpunks and Timothy May's vision. He frequently cites the work of post-Marxist thinkers in public comments, especially that of Jean Baudrillard, whom he has claimed as his "master."
Asked during an interview with Popular Science if the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting affected his thinking or plans in any way, Wilson responded, "... understanding that rights and civil liberties are something that we protect is also understanding that they have consequences that are also protected, or tolerated. The exercise of civil liberties is antithetical to the idea of a completely totalizing state. That's just the way it is."
Wilson is generally opposed to intellectual property rights. He has indicated that although his primary goal is the subversion of state-structures, he also hopes that his contributions may help to dismantle the existing system of capitalist property relations.
In a January 2013 interview with Glenn Beck on the nature of and motivations behind his effort to develop and share gun 3D printable files Wilson said, "That's a real political act, giving you a magazine, telling you that it will never be taken away. ... That's real politics. That's radical equality. That's what I believe in. ... I'm just resisting. What am I resisting? I don't know, the collectivization of manufacture? The institutionalization of the human psyche? I'm not sure. But I can tell you one thing: this is a symbol of irreversibility. They can never eradicate the gun from the earth."
In September 2018, charges were filed against Wilson for allegedly having sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old girl he met on SugarDaddyMeet, a website that matches older men with younger women. He is accused of committing a second-degree felony after paying $500 to the girl for sex in a hotel room in Austin, Texas in August 2018. Austin police said they were alerted by a counselor who had been working with the girl.
It was reported that after Wilson, told that a police investigation was underway, fled to Taipei, Taiwan, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. However, Wilson was subsequently arrested in Taiwan by local police and handed to the National Immigration Agency (NIA), charged with a immigration violation as his passport was revoked by the U.S. government. He was deported on September 22, 2018, and was booked by the United States Marshals Service in Harris County Jail in Houston, Texas on September 23, 2018. He was released after posting a $150,000 bond.
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