Today’s news of the Netherlands Crime Agency (FIOD) arresting a “suspected” Tornado Cash developer is making waves on social media, with the crypto community and privacy advocates decrying the move as a declaration of war on those who simply write code.
“I’m short of words. I’m short of breath. They detained him for writing code. Writing code. These terrorist organizations called traditional nations must be dismantled,” wrote Luis Cuende, the co-founder of Aragon, an open-source software project that helps projects manage decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO).
Daniel Buchner, who works on decentralized identity solutions, added that arresting a developer for being part of a project that was allegedly used by bad actors “transcends Ethereum and applies to any decentralized system.”
“It's an overt attack on human rights and casts a chilling effect over developers of open source software. Authoritarians who perpetrate human rights violations should be repelled by any and all means necessary,” wrote Buchner.
“Welcome to the war on code,” stated Cobie, a prominent Twitter personality and co-host of the “UpOnly” podcast
Tom Robinson, the chief scientist at blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, shared a similar view, saying that with the arrest of a Tornado Cash developer, “the discord between decentralized financial protocols and law enforcement starts to play out.”
“As others have asked - is this the start of the War on Code?” asked Robinson.
Some long-time Bitcoin maximalists joined the debate as well, with Stephan Livera, the host of a popular podcast, calling the developments around Tornado “concerning news.”
“Imagine if road builders were being arrested 'because criminals use them?' Or home curtain installers? Wanting privacy should not be considered a crime,” wrote Livera.
Legal implications of Tornado Cash sanctions
Tornado Cash, which obfuscates the origin of Ethereum transactions by pooling together large numbers of transactions and mixing them to prevent them from being tracked on the public blockchain, was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department on Monday—along with a slew of addresses associated with the service.
Jake Chervinsky, a lawyer and head of policy at Blockchain Association, weighed in on the government’s move, saying that he spent the whole week looking into the sanctions imposed on Tornado Cash and “haven't heard a satisfying justification yet.”
“The main argument is 'criminals used it a lot.' Okay, but they use everything law-abiding citizens do. Where's the line? How slippery is this slope? The uncertainty is a step back,” replied crypto researcher Noah Ruderman, adding that the whole thing is likely to be about surveillance issues.
“If you ever get 'too good' at disrupting surveillance, internal pressure will come from foreign policy and national security interests to shut it down,” said Ruderman.
“Arresting cryptographers for writing software is the end of credibility for the west. Bad move. Worse timing. Naive,” wrote Simon Taylor, head of strategy at fraud prevention and compliance infrastructure provider Sardine.
As for what's next, only time will tell.
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