U.S. Treasury Allowed “Interacting” with Tornado Cash Code
The Department of the Treasury has allowed U.S. citizens to visit the Tornado Cash mixer website and use its source code for any purpose that would not “involve other sanctionable conduct.”
The U.S. Treasury Department posted some clarification on the FAQ page of its official website regarding using Tornado Cash’s open-source code. The crypto mixer has recently come under the OFAC sanctions.
So, in response to a barrage of accusations of abusing its authority, the Department said that interacting with Tornado Cash’s open-source code wouldn’t violate the sanctions. However, by “interaction,” the Treasury Department means:
- copying the mixer’s open-source code;
- publishing the code on the Internet or other media;
- visiting the online archive for the Tornado Cash historical website.
Thus, U.S. citizens are free to interact with Tornado Cash’s code, but as long as that “interaction” doesn’t involve prohibited transactions. That is, the Treasury Department allows “looking with eyes, not hands.”
The Treasury Department also clarified that some crypto mixer users will be given the opportunity to complete transactions that were initiated before the sanctions were imposed. Anyone wishing to withdraw their digital assets from Tornado Cash can apply for an OFAC license. But to do so, they’ll need to provide the Ministry with comprehensive information about the origin of the funds.
In August of this year, the OFAC recognized Tornado Cash as a cybercrime money laundering site and included over 40 crypto addresses on its SDN blocklist. Shortly after that, Tornado Cash employees’ accounts on GitHub were blocked. By doing so, the Ministry of Finance effectively sanctioned the code, banning its use and any interaction with it. This caused an outcry from the community, which accused the Treasury of exceeding its authority by threatening Web 3.0 privacy.