Crypto policy groups call Tornado Cash sanctions ‘unprecedented and unlawful’ in new legal brief 

Quick Take

  • A pair of crypto policy groups in Washington, D.C. slammed the Treasury Department’s sanction against Tornado Cash in a new court filing.
  • The Blockchain Association and DeFi Education Fund called last year’s sanctions “unlawful” in an amicus brief.

The Blockchain Association called the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision to sanction Tornado Cash “unprecedented and unlawful” in a new amicus brief it filed with DeFi Education Fund.

The Treasury Department last year sanctioned Tornado Cash, the open-source software that can be used to anonymize transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. The move was met with pushback by crypto advocates, including the Washington, D.C. policy nonprofit Coin Center, which filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department over the sanctions. 

The Blockchain Association, a crypto advocacy group in D.C., filed a legal brief in support of Coin Center’s case this week, alongside DeFi Education Fund, a nonpartisan research and advocacy group.

“It’s critical to recognize that Tornado Cash is simply a tool – punishing the tool itself simply because it can be used by anyone, including bad actors, runs contrary to the values this country was founded upon,” Blockchain Association CEO Kristin Smith said in a statement.


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“Blockchain Association stands with Coin Center, advocating for the responsible and lawful use of blockchain technology. Regulatory actions should only be targeted at bad actors who abuse this tool for illegal purposes,” Smith added. 

Crypto exchange Coinbase is backing another case targeting the department over the sanctions. The Blockchain Association has also filed an amicus brief in that case. Both lawsuits argue that the government overstepped its authority by targeting software, rather than an individual or entity, among other issues.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Stephanie is a senior reporter covering policy and regulation. She is focused on legislation, regulatory agencies, lobbying and money in politics. Stephanie is based in Washington, D.C.


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