One of the plaintiffs stated that code is speech and free speech was a constitutional right worth protecting. Tornado Cash users brought a lawsuit against U.S. Department of Treasury. They called its sanctioning of the Ethereum Ethereum mix service “unprecedented and overbroad.”
The suit is being funded by Cryptobase. It also includes many employees as plaintiffs. Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary, and Andrea Gacki, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, (OFAC), are also named in it.
Code is speech and free speech is a right
Tornado Cash was added to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list by OFAC a month ago. This sanctioned crypto wallets that are associated with the mixing service.
Tornado Cash is a privacy service that allows anonymous transactions to be made on the Ethereum blockchain. Transactions made through Tornado Cash remain public, but are mixed with transactions from other users to make it hard to identify senders and receivers.
According to OFAC’s announcement, the main reason for the sanctions was evidence that Lazarus Group, North Korean state-sponsored hackers, used the service to launder $96 millions after stealing funds at Harmony Bridge.
This reasoning is too broad, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong stated in a blog post regarding the lawsuit.
Coinbase CEO backs freedom to code
In a blog post, Brian Armstrong, Coinbase CEO, wrote that sanctioning open-source software was like preventing robbers from using it to flee crime scenes. It’s not the best solution to a problem. It punishes people who did not do wrong, and leads to people being less secure and private.
Armstrong described in the post how Tornado Cash has been used by some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. At least two of them are unable to access the funds in the mixer.
It was used by one person to send money to Ukraine. They believe this made their crypto wallet the victim of malicious airdrops. Armstrong wrote that the mixing service protected their identity and added security. Another plaintiff uses it for keeping their transactions separate from their well-known Twitter account.
Jonathan Van Loon, one the plaintiffs, and an Ethereum core developer at Prysmatic Labs wrote on Twitter that it was not an easy decision to join this lawsuit.