Tornado Cash is an open-source project that enables people to shield their transaction histories from public view. The U.S. government alleges it is also a service that was used to launder more than $7 billion worth of ill-gotten gains since 2019, including by North Korean hackers. Although Tornado is now blacklisted, the government cannot actually shut the application down or stop people from interacting with the code or redeploying it to a new, non-sanctioned address.
The government will have trouble enforcing its sanction. To make matters worse, pranksters are sending small amounts of ETH from Tornado cash to high-profile crypto holders and celebrities. Since the crypto transactions cannot be refused, those on the receiving end may now be deemed liable for interacting with a sanctioned address.
Instead of targeting said hackers or going after identifiable bad actors, the government has imposed a sweeping ban on the protocol and arrested the developer of tornado cash, Alexey Pertsev.
The logic behind the ban and arrest is questionable. It’s been an open secret that the traditional banking sector launders a lot more money than Tornado Cash, yet the authorities don’t blacklist the offending banks and all it’s customers. The arrest on the other hand raises some major concerns and issues. Can inventors / creators be put in jail for creating something that ends up being used outside of its intended purpose for criminal endeavours. It’s also unclear what the authorities will charge the developer under.
It is becoming clear that the desires of crypto and the demands of 21st century modern governments are not compatible. That’s by design.