“Crypto Advocates Rally Behind Tornado Cash Developer in Legal Battle”


Several pro-crypto organizations have come forward to support Roman Storm, a developer of Tornado Cash, an Ethereum privacy protocol. Storm was arrested in August and is facing charges related to his involvement with the platform. Last week, he filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing against the government’s portrayal of Tornado Cash and blockchain technology.

Another co-founder, Roman Semenov, is still at large while Alexey Pertsev is awaiting his trial verdict in the Netherlands. In defense of Storm, Coin Center, the Blockchain Association, and the DeFi Education Fund filed amicus briefs challenging the government’s case against him.

Although filed separately, these briefs share similar arguments against the charges. They contest the government’s depiction of Tornado Cash as an unregistered money-transmitting business, arguing that this interpretation misrepresents existing regulations.

The briefs also highlight the technical workings of Tornado Cash, stating that its developers do not have direct control over user assets. This raises concerns about the potential consequences for developers if the court sides with the government, as it could make compliance with certain laws impractical for software creators.

The Blockchain Association’s brief criticizes the government’s understanding of Tornado Cash, citing inconsistencies with FinCEN’s definitions. It emphasizes the software’s autonomous nature and the lack of control developers have over user transactions, suggesting a fundamental disagreement with its classification as a money-transmitting service. The association also raises concerns about the future of anonymizing protocols and the practicality of adhering to the Bank Secrecy Act for developers.

Coin Center’s brief addresses the count of conspiracy to violate the International Economic Emergency Powers Act (IEEPA) with a First Amendment defense. It argues that the decisions surrounding the software’s release predated any knowledge of misuse by malicious actors, such as the Lazarus Group. Coin Center compares Tornado Cash’s developers to those of the open-source Linux operating system, stating that implicating them in sanction violations is unjust. The organization stresses the importance of protecting software developers from broad interpretations of complicity.

The DeFi Education Fund’s brief paints a concerning picture of the potential consequences of the case against Storm. It warns against a legal precedent that could criminalize software developers for how third parties use their open-source code. This suggests a limitless scope of prosecutorial power, putting developers at risk for actions taken by others years after the software’s release. This lack of a limiting principle is a cause for concern, according to the fund.

Additionally, it is worth noting that President Joe Biden’s election fundraising has remained ahead of former President Donald Trump. This raises questions about whether crypto voters are onboard with Biden’s campaign.

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