Earlier this month, the US Treasury hit Tornado Cash with stiff penalties. For good reason, the cryptocurrency mixer is suspected of facilitating money laundering. In the aftermath, GitHub removed the source code for the protocol and the accounts of some contributors involved in its development. Faced with this bitter situation, a researcher decided to bring the Tornado Cash repositories back online. Enough to send both GitHub and the US government upside down.
Tornado Cash case: A question of violation of freedom
Matthew Green, a research professor at Johns Hopkins University, has posted an archive of Tornado Cash and Tornado Cash Nova source code on Github. His goal ? Denounce the censorship suffered by the crypto mixer.
“The purpose of this repository is to impress on the US Treasury Department and Github that this code has value, and that its removal has consequences that affect scientific researchers and students in the United States” he confided.
Indeed, Green said his educational mission suffered from the withdrawal of Tornado Cash deposits. Especially since his students learned to design interesting projects inspired by it. Moreover, he went even further by evoking a violation of freedom of expression. Because in his eyes, the code is speech.
Github defends itself
Commenting on the news, a representative from GitHub asserted : “We strive to make open source code as widely available as possible while respecting US trade laws. [De plus,] we are carefully reviewing government sanctions to ensure that users and customers are not impacted beyond what is required by law”.
At present, there is no evidence that Github has been under any pressure from the government. However, since the company reacted in the hours following the announcement of the sanctions, it seems that its decision was influenced by it. This case clearly highlights the control that public authorities can have over the privacy of individuals.
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