Tornado Cash’s source code disappeared from Github just 24 hours after the U.S. Treasury Department added the privacy tool to its sanctions list.
As of yesterday, the Treasury Department has banned U.S. citizens from using Tornado or transacting with several Ethereum addresses linked to the Tornado Cash community.
In the official announcement, the Treasury stated that these actions were taken because criminals had used the service “to launder more than $7 billion in virtual currency since its inception in 2019.“
He also said that the criminals had laundered $7.8 million stolen in the Nomad Bridge hack last week via Tornado. Several hours after the announcement, reports emerged that Github – the code platform that hosted the Tornado Cash code – had also taken action.
Tornado Cash founder Roman Semenov tweeted that his Github account had been suspended shortly after the government blacklisting announcement.
My @GitHub account was just suspended 🤷
Is writing an open source code illegal now?
— Roman Semenov 🇺🇦 🌪️ (@semenov_roman_) August 8, 2022
The federal government’s swift removal of the crypto-currency privacy tool has sparked a public outcry from several industry leaders, who cited the 1996 federal court ruling “Bernstein v. U.S.“, which established that “the source code is a speech“protected by the First Amendment
While Tornado’s code is functional – mixing ETH transactions so they are harder to trace – publishing the code on its own is protected speech, even if that code can be used unlawfully. pic.twitter.com/Z2MWBhBakW
– Kurt Opsahl | Zcon, BSides, BH, DEFCON (@kurtopsahl) August 8, 2022
Patrick Collins, a developer of smart contracts, said the decision was “far worse than simply sanctioning a website” and announced that he would “call lawyers“.
It’s gotten MUCH worse.@TornadoCash Github accounts and codebase has been entirely removed.
This is much worse than just sanctioning a website.
Code is speech, so we are potentially violating the first amendment.
Paging lawyers @adamdavidlong
– Patrick Collins (@PatrickAlphaC) August 8, 2022
A representative from Tornado Cash confirmed that the code was removed by Github itself, but responded that the “smart contracts are on the Ethereum blockchain. This does not change anything for Tornado Cash contracts“.