Vitalik Buterin: “I used Tornado Cash to make a donation to Ukraine”

Vitalik Buterin clarified that he used Tornado Cash to protect the recipients of the funds, not himself. Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum and longtime advocate of privacy and decentralization, admitted to using Tornado Cash to donate to war efforts in Ukraine.

Commenting on a Twitter discussion describing legitimate Tornado Cash use cases and the benefits of financial privacy, including donating to Ukraine without alerting the Russian government, Vitalik Buterin said he used the protocol to make a private donation to Ukraine. “I will introduce myself as someone who used TC to donate to this exact cause“, he wrote. When asked if he hid his transaction for fear of government repercussions, the Russian-born programmer said he used Tornado Cash to protect the recipients of the funds rather than himself.

My intention was to protect the recipients, not myself. The Russian government knows my positions on the Ukraine issue anyway“, he said, referring to an earlier tweet in which he told the editor-in-chief of state-backed Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, to “go to hell“.

Buterin’s comments come a day after the U.S. Treasury placed the Tornado Cash website and smart contracts on its sanctions list, effectively banning all U.S. residents and U.S.-based businesses from interacting with the protocol. In response, U.S. stablecoin issuer Circle immediately blacklisted all addresses on the sanctions list, freezing approximately 75,000 USDCs belonging to Tornado Cash users. Today, leading blockchain infrastructure providers Infura and Alchemy, on which many Web3 applications and users rely, also blocked access to Tornado Cash. GitHub has also complied with the ban.

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The Treasury’s decision to sanction Tornado Cash has rallied many in the crypto-currency industry, including some of the industry’s largest and most influential leaders and advocacy groups. Coin Center, one of America’s leading crypto-currency lobbying organizations, wrote in a statement yesterday that “sanctioning a tool that is not an alias of a person deserving of sanction is substantially different from the typical use of the SDN list“. She then added that the Treasury decision was an example of “prohibition of a technology” rather than a sanction against a person, suggesting that sanctions might be illegal and violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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