It’s time for the EFF to talk out on the Tornado Cash state of affairs. The OFAC sanctioning a wise contract would possibly’ve been going a step too far, they stepped into the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s turf. We might summarize the EFF’s case with this sentence: “for decades, U.S. courts have recognized that code is speech.” It’s so simple as that, however the authorities and the Office of Foreign Assets Control don’t see it that approach. In the Netherlands, they even arrested an alleged Tornado Cash developer

Before we get into the EFF’s arguments, it is best to know that “the Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.” The group was based in 1990, and its “mission is to ensure that technology supports freedom, justice, and innovation for all people of the world.” In the weblog publish titled “Code, Speech, and the Tornado Cash Mixer” the group presents the authorized case in a transparent and concise approach. We’ll attempt to simplify it much more, however for those who communicate legalese contemplate studying the unique publish.

The EFF begins like this:  

“The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)’s placement of “Tornado Cash” as an entity on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) sanction listing raises essential questions which can be being mentioned around the globe.”

We compiled a few of these questions in our Crypto Reacts regular feature, and now it’s time for the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s formal strategy.

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The EFF Asks: What Is Tornado Cash Exactly?

To summarize, OFAC included mixing service Tornado Cash within the SDN listing. This is a severe measure, “once an entity is on the sanctions list, U.S. persons and businesses must stop “dealing” with them, together with by transfers of cash or property.” However, Tornado Cash will not be an entity. It’s open-source software program. Still, all US-based organizations that had some publicity to Tornado Cash dropped everything related to it like a scorching potato.

“The issues EFF is most concerned about arise from speech protections for software code and how they relate to government attempts to stop illegal activity using this code.”

Besides the truth that software program deployed within the Ethereum blockchain will probably be there perpetually, it doesn’t matter what, there’s one other drawback. According to the EFF, “the OFAC listing is ambiguous” and “Tornado Cash” might seek advice from a number of various things, creating ambiguity in what precisely is sanctioned.” The “several different things” Tornado Cash might seek advice from are:

  • “Tornado Cash “Classic” 
  • “Tornado Cash “Nova” 
  • “The underlying open source project that developed and published the code on GitHub”
  • “The name of this autonomous mixer software that resides as a smart contract (application) running on the Ethereum network”
  • “The URL of the tornado.cash website”
  • “And could be considered a name of an entity consisting of some set of people involved with the mixer.”

Is the OFAC sanctioning all the pieces on that listing?

The Professor The EFF Is Representing

At the guts of the pertinent questions, there’s an precise authorized case:

“In keeping with our longstanding defense of the right to publish code, we are representing Professor Matthew Green, who teaches computer science at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, including applied cryptography and anonymous cryptocurrencies.”

Professor Matthew Green “made a Github organization to republish a fork of the Tornado Cash repositories that were banned following the Treasury’s sanction order the other week.” His reasoning for doing so is that this: “I’ve worked with this code as a researcher and I use it to teach my classes, so it’s important to me that it stays easily-accessible on a major site like GitHub.”

According to the EFF, “The First Amendment protects both GitHub’s right to host that code, and Professor Green’s right to publish (here republish) it on GitHub so he and others can use it for teaching, for further study, and for development of the technology.”

Do they’ve a case? It definitely feels that approach. And some readability across the Tornado Cash sanctions wouldn’t harm, both.

Featured Image: Free speech icon from the EFF's website | Charts by TradingView

Tornado Cash, a tornado over a city





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