- The U.S. EFF joins in opposing the Treasury Department’s decision to penalize Americans for using the Tornado Cash coin mixer.
- The EFF defends Johns Hopkins University professor Matthew Green, who teaches cryptography and anonymous cryptocurrency.
- It claims that the First Amendment preserves GitHub’s right to host the code and Professor Green’s right to republish it.
In response to the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision to issue penalties prohibiting American people from using the Tornado Cash coin mixer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has joined the chorus of crypto and privacy groups pushing back against the move. In a recent report, the EFF has asked for clarity around the Tornado Cash debacle.
To recap, OFAC added the mixing service Tornado Cash to the Specially Designated Nationals list. This is a serious action: “once an entity is on the sanctions list, U.S. persons and businesses must stop ‘dealing’ with them, including through transfers of money or property.”
But Tornado Cash is not an entity. To put it simply, it’s free and open-source. Even still, every single company in the United States that had even the slightest connection to Tornado Cash abandoned it.
The EFF states:
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.
However, there is another issue with deploying software on the Ethereum blockchain: it will remain there indefinitely. The EFF claims that “the OFAC listing is ambiguous” since the term “Tornado Cash” could mean more than one item.
Furthermore, amidst the EFF’s call for clarity is a legal case. The EFF is defending Professor Matthew Green, who teaches computer science at Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, including applied cryptography and anonymous cryptocurrency.
After the Treasury’s sanction order was issued the other week, professor Matthew Green “made a Github organization to republish a fork of the Tornado Cash repositories.” He did this because he had worked with this code as a researcher and used it to teach in his classes, making it important for him to be easily accessible on a major site like GitHub.”
The EFF argues that the First Amendment protects not just GitHub’s right to host the code in question but also Professor Green’s right to publish it on GitHub so that he and others can utilize it for educational purposes, research purposes, and technological advancement.