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'It Doesn’t Change Anything' Says Tornado Cash After Code Disappears From GitHub

The source code for crypto privacy mixer Tornado Cash has been removed from Github, prompting outcry from privacy and free speech advocates.

2 min read
Tornado Cash wants to bring anonymity to the Ethereum blockchain. Image: Tornado Cash.

The source code for crypto transaction mixer Tornado Cash has disappeared from Github barely 24 hours after the US Treasury Department added the privacy tool to its sanctions list.

Since yesterday, the Treasury Department has banned American citizens from using Tornado or transacting with several Ethereum addresses linked to the Tornado Cash community. 

In the official announcement, the Treasury said these measures were taken because criminals had used the service “to launder more than $7 billion worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019.”

It also said criminals laundered $7.8 million stolen in last week’s Nomad Bridge hack through Tornado. 

Several hours after the announcement, reports emerged that Github—the code platform that hosted Tornado Cash’s code—had also taken action. 

Tornado Cash founder Roman Semenov tweeted that his Github account had been suspended shortly after the government’s blacklist had been announced.

The federal government’s quick suppression of the crypto privacy tool prompted a general outcry from several industry leaders, who cited the 1996 Federal court case “Bernstein v U.S.,” which established “source code as speech” protected by the First Amendment

Smart contract developer Patrick Collins said the move was “much worse than just sanctioning a website” and announced he’s “paging lawyers.” 

Decrypt asked Tornado Cash what the code’s removal from Github means for the privacy tool.

A representative confirmed that the code had been removed by Github itself, but replied that the “smart contracts are on the Ethereum blockchain. It doesn’t change anything for Tornado Cash contracts.”

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