Blockchain Association Files Amicus Brief in Office of Foreign Assets Control Lawsuit Against Tornado Cash

Washington, D.C. (April 12, 2023) – Blockchain Association announced today that it has filed an amicus brief in Van Loon v. Treasury regarding OFAC’s sanctions against the privacy-protecting software known as Tornado Cash. OFAC’s sanctions mark the first time that OFAC has attempted to sanction computer software, rather than the individuals or entities that misuse such tools. We argue that OFAC’s actions are unlawful, exceed their statutory authority, and are arbitrary and capricious, running contrary to the Constitution. Tornado Cash is simply a tool, a self-executing computer software protocol embedded on the Ethereum blockchain. Contrary to OFAC’s assertions, this software has no owner or operator, and it functions in an entirely decentralized manner. Like any tool – indeed, like the internet itself – Tornado Cash can be misused for illicit purposes, but it is used primarily for legitimate and socially valuable reasons. OFAC’s overreach has already had sweeping consequences, but if OFAC succeeds in this action against Tornado Cash, this overreach will be unprecedented – weakening the digital asset industry, jeopardizing law-abiding Americans’ right to financial privacy, and effecting a vast expansion of OFAC’s power without congressional involvement and outside the lawful notice and comment rulemaking process.

The following statement is attributed to Kristin Smith, Blockchain Association CEO: 

“We urge OFAC to see Tornado Cash for what it is: an autonomous, decentralized software program that supports the right to privacy, rather than a tool that is de facto illegal simply because it can be used by anyone, including bad actors. A hammer is a tool, a car is a tool, indeed the internet itself could be considered a tool. Ordinarily, OFAC would not consider sanctioning neutral tools used by some people for illicit activities, it would sanction the people committing those activities. The same perspective should apply to OFAC’s action against Tornado Cash.”