Columbia Business School Professor on Tornado.Cash Sanctions: US Government has Criminalized Financial Privacy

As has been widely reported, the US Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), has sanctioned crypto mixer for enabling illicit activities in regards to crypto thefts, ransomware and money laundering. Many crypto proponents are up in arms as this is the first time OFAC has targeted code not a person nor a business entity. The code is open-sourced and freely available.  Defenders of the software say the action by OFAC is akin to sanctioning a highway because criminals drive on the route.

CI has received a comment from Omid Malekan, an adjunct professor at Columbia Business school, where he teaches on the topic of crypto/blockchain, lambasting the government’s actions as criminalizing financial privacy. Maleken states:

“The decision has broad consequences both for the industry and beyond because for the first time ever, the US government has criminalized interacting with software. This is a big departure from their traditional decrees of sanctioning people, companies and governments. There is evidence the project in question has indeed been used by criminals/hackers to obfuscate their funds, but there are also many legitimate uses. By sanctioning it entirely, the government has effectively criminalized the mere act of seeking financial privacy.”

Malekan has also “defied” the sanctions, protesting the government action, by using Tornado to donate to several different charities.



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