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Crypto Advocacy Groups Support Tornado Cash Developer in Legal Battle – Here’s the Latest

Crypto advocacy groups have rallied behind Roman Storm, the developer of Tornado Cash, amid his ongoing legal battle.

Storm, who faced arrest in August and was charged with three counts linked to his role as a co-founder of the Ethereum privacy protocol, recently motioned to dismiss the charges against him.

He contended that the government’s stance demonstrated a flawed comprehension of Tornado Cash’s services and blockchain technology.

Three notable pro-crypto entities—Coin Center, the Blockchain Association, and the DeFi Education Fund—have submitted amicus briefs in solidarity with Storm.

Though each brief was independently crafted and filed, they collectively contest the government’s indictment with similar arguments.

US Says Storm Operated as Unregistered Money Transmitter

The government’s indictment alleges that Storm and his co-founder, Roman Semenov, conducted the transfer of funds on behalf of the public without registering Tornado Cash with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). This resulted in the charge of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.

However, the brief submitted by the Blockchain Association underscores that FinCEN’s own definitions contradict this portrayal. According to the brief, intermediaries can only be deemed liable as money transmitters if they possess total independent control over the assets, a criterion not met by Tornado Cash. The brief cautions that if the government’s interpretation prevails, it would effectively prohibit anonymizing protocols and render compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act unattainable for developers.

Coin Center’s brief zeroes in on arguments opposing the count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) while providing a defense grounded in the First Amendment.

It contends that the conspiracy charge lacks merit since the decisions pertaining to Tornado Cash’s functionality and release were made well before any awareness of alleged sanctions violations.

Drawing an analogy to the developers of the Linux open-source operating system, the brief likens the situation to suggesting that they colluded with a regime simply by releasing a valuable computing tool later utilized by said regime for its own ends.

The brief asserts, “Decisions regarding the software’s functionality and its release were made long before any knowledge of the Lazarus Group’s activities could have even existed.”

DeFi Education Fund Challenges Charges Against Storm

The DeFi Education Fund’s brief also contests the charges and paints a troubling picture of the potential consequences if Storm were to lose the case.

It argues that endorsing the government’s theories of liability would grant them unchecked authority to prosecute software developers for code subsequently utilized by third parties for illicit purposes.

This absence of a restricting principle could subject creators of open-source software to criminal accountability for activities beyond their influence, even years or decades later.

“With no limiting principle in place, nearly all developers who create open-source software would be exposed to criminal liability for activity outside of their control years or decades later.”

As of now, government prosecutors have yet to respond to Storm’s motion to dismiss the charges.

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