US Congressmen Asks OFAC to Clarify Tornado Cash Sanction
  • On August 8, the OFAC issued sanctions on Tornado Cash.
  • Emmer asked what considerations caused a piece of technology to a sanction’s list.

A member of Congress in the United States has questioned the Treasury’s decision to ban Tornado Cash. The penalties on Tornado Cash, a “neutral, open-source, decentralized technology,” according to Congressman Tom Emmer’s (R-MN) open letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen released today, pose new questions about U.S. national security and citizens’ right to privacy.

Start of a Blanket Ban?

On August 8, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took the unprecedented step of issuing sanctions against the Ethereum mixing protocol Tornado Cash and several Ethereum addresses associated with it, effectively making use of the protocol illegal under U.S. law.

Concerns have been raised regarding the government’s capacity to put a blanket ban on a piece of open source software, as opposed to a person or corporation, which is why the proposal has been received with anxiety and anger from the crypto community.

Since some of the prohibited addresses do not belong to persons, organizations, or properties but rather “widely distributed technological tools” not controlled by a single entity, Emmer referred to the placement of Tornado Cash on the sanctions list as a “divergence from previous OFAC precedent.”

The lawmaker wanted to know whether the Treasury thinks that any of the sanctioned addresses belong to persons in charge of Tornado Cash. Moreover, what considerations caused the Treasury to add a piece of technology to a sanction’s list. The lawmaker further asked if innocent U.S. users of Tornado Cash have recourse to unblock their cash, and whether or not those who receive unsolicited payments from sanctioned addresses should be regarded to be in violation of the law.

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