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US lawmaker writes to Treasury about Tornado Cash sanctions

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US Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN) wants answers from the Treasury Department over the sanctions the agency imposed on Tornado Cash.

In a letter addressed to Treasury’s Janet Yellen on Tuesday, Rep. Emmer highlighted his take on the sanctions, noting the implication of the US government’s move to national security as well as individuals’ privacy rights.

The lawmaker shared the letter on Twitter.

Sanctioning ‘privacy-enabling’ code

According to Rep. Emmer, while the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)’s sanctions target illicit funds linked to crypto heists and other cyberattacks, they were however unique in that the agency did not levy them “against a person or an entity, but against ‘privacy-enabling’ code.”

The sanctions are thus against “a neutral, open-source, decentralised technology,” which raised a lot of questions that the Treasury needs to clarify, he noted.

Emmer wants the US Treasury to explain whether OFAC’s sanctions undertook that the banned Tornado Cash addresses indeed belong to individuals. He also seeks clarification on exactly who or what entity the agency believes controls the mixing service’s smart contracts.

Also on his list of questions is the recourse for users whose funds are locked, as well as those who might receive unsolicited money from the blacklisted addresses.

OFAC sanctioned Tornado Cash, a decentralised transaction anonymising platform, early this month over claims it had enabled multiple money laundering transactions involving North Korea-linked hackers.

The blacklisting has forced several crypto platforms to stop Tornado Cash functionality on their sites, and seen wider outcry over the same across the crypto space following the arrest of a developer in the Netherlands.

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