After a stormy week for the cryptosphere, we thought the weekend would bring some respite. However, the hurricane bearing down on cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash is struggling to calm down.
Torando cash in the breath of US regulation
Tornado Cash is a DeFi app that allows its users to send and receive cryptocurrencies while maintaining their anonymity. The ethers are thus mixed, blended with each other so that they are no longer traceable. This is called a cryptocurrency mixer.
So the winds have risen on August 8 for Tornado Cash. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), an agency belonging to the U.S. Treasury Department, decided to go after the cryptocurrency mixer.
The latter is, in fact, a tool frequently used by public enemy number one across the Atlantic: the North Korean hacker group Lazarus. The web hackers use it to disperse the stolen funds on blockchain protocols in order not to be found. It is, for example, in this way, that the funds of the Harmony hack were dispersed.
In this context, the American regulator has therefore asked to freeze the funds of the addresses receiving transactions via Tornado Cash. The community’s Discord server as well as its website have been taken offline. The main developer of the cryptocurrency mixer was then arrested in the Netherlands.
Justin Sun, CEO of Tron caught in the storm
Jostled by these sharp and chilling winds for our freedom, some decided in their own way to highlight the absurdity of the Treasury’s sanction. Some Internet users decided to send transactions via Tornado Cash to public people.
Justin Sun, the founder of the TRON cryptocurrency lending protocol is one of these people. He announced on August 13 that he received 0.1 ETH from Tornado Cash. His address was then blocked. Aave having followed the requirements of OFAC and the US Treasury.
“I am officially blocked by Aave since someone randomly sent me 0.1 ETH from Tornado Cash (…)”
The reaction of the Aave protocol was however quick since 24 hours after the alert on Twitter, Justin Sun confirmed the unblocking of his address.
“My Aave account is back. Big kudos to Twitter and Stani Kulechov and I’m a big fan of Aave!”
Aave for its part also communicated on the recent OFAC sanctions confirming in a thread on Twitter late yesterday:
“After the OFAC sanctions decision on Tornado Cash, the team integrated the TRM API, which filters and blocks addresses that interacted with TC contracts after the sanction. This integration was as critical as it was urgent. We were informed that the API may have included unaffected wallets in the blocking lists, (…) including wallets that received ETH ‘dusted’ by third parties interacting with Tornado Cash contracts without consent.”
So it appears that the blocking of Aave addresses takes place from the platform’s website, exactly, its front-end page. Let’s be reassured, the protocols related to the application remain unchanged.
Zeal, authoritarianism? This situation is the illustration of a regulation that seems to fall on the cryptocurrencies. Exchanges and protocols such as DyDx, Infura or even Alchemy, block all addresses that receive funds from the cryptocurrency mixer. Thus, the Tornado Cash mess could harm the ecosystem in general. Indeed, this authority used by the protocols, under the yoke of the U.S. Treasury, throws a cold light on one of the fundamental concepts that led to the creation of Bitcoin, king of cryptocurrencies: anonymity, carried by the voice of influential and important people for the ecosystem such as Vitalik Buterin. For its part, facing the storm the DAO Tornado Cash announces a second round in this fight.