Thursday, May 9, 2013

Is a Crypto-Anarchist Fit for the Bar?

Cody Wilson, a second-year law student at the University of Texas, has successfully created a 3D-printed gun and fired it. Here's the awesome video:

Mr. Wilson is apparently an extreme libertarian who, according to Farhad Manjoo, describes himself as a "crypto-anarchist":
Crypto-anarchism (or crypto-anarchy) is a cyber-spatial realization of anarchism. Crypto-anarchists employ cryptographic software to evade prosecution and harassment while sending and receiving information over computer networks, in an effort to protect their privacy and political freedom.
Prospective lawyers generally must establish their "character and fitness" to be bestowed with the privilege of practicing law. I wonder whether a person who openly avows anarchy could be found fit to practice law—that is, to become an officer of the court sworn to uphold the constitution and laws of the United States. This question itself may have an unsavory aftertaste, given that it calls to mind similar questions asked of Communists during various Red Scares. But that's how I roll.

Mr. Wilson seems to have broken no law with his 3D-printed gun, and even took active steps to comply with federal law by inserting a non-functional piece of metal into the final product. And I actually can't find any evidence to back up Mr. Manjoo's assertion that Mr. Wilson describes himself as a crypto-anarchist. (All I can find is an interview in which he expresses enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. It's quite possible that Manjoo just made up this anarchist stuff, because as you'll see in my next post he makes laughably wrong assertions regarding the law in the very same article.) But, assuming for a moment that Mr. Wilson is openly anarchist, it seems fair to at least explore whether such beliefs are consistent with swearing the lawyer's oath of admission.


  1. Are crypto-anarchists the same as anarchists? The definition doesn't suggest that they are unless there are laws against encrypting one's cyber communication.

    If he is an anarchist, one wonders how Mr. Wilson will take the oath required of lawyers in Texas. It states that the lawyer will support the constitutions of both the United States and Texas. If he can't take the oath, how does he can he practice law?

  2. From what I understand, the "crypto" prefix denotes that these guys believe in using encrypted computer technologies to subvert government control.


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