Vitalik Buterin Speaks Up on Tornado Cash Saga

Following heated attention on Tornado Cash this week, the Ethereum founder spoke on the mixer’s recent sanction, revealing he used the blacklisted mixer not long ago.

Tornado cash is a decentralized protocol that provides users with a platform to perform untraceable transactions. The protocol, built on the Ethereum blockchain, is a transaction mixer that hides and deletes links between transacting accounts. This makes it impossible for transactions performed through it to be traceable, giving its users full anonymity.

Vitalik Prompts Vital Questions

However, like many mixers, TC’s stealth feature means it is also a choice tool for hackers to launder funds. Indeed, the platform had been linked to more than a few illegal heists in the recent past. Thus, it wasn’t too surprising, when on Monday, the US Treasury added the mixers to its list of sanctioned platforms. 

On Tuesday, Vitalik tweeted a response to Jeff Coleman, reiterating the need for financial privacy. Coleman is the co-founder of an Ethereum startup, Counterfactual.

Wanting to donate to Ukraine is a great example of a valid need for financial privacy: even if the government where you live is in full support,” Coleman tweeted. 

To complement Coleman’s observation, Vitalik Buterin revealed he had employed Tornado Cash’s services only recently. The Ethereum founder wrote that he’d sent donations to Ukraine as an aid in its ongoing war.

I’ll out myself as someone who has used TC to donate to this exact cause,” Buterin said to Coleman.

When questioned on the wisdom of making his donation public despite using a private mixer to send funds, the founder replied that he hadn’t been concerned about his privacy. Instead, he’d been more concerned about protecting the identity of his recipients.

The founder’s comments prompt the questioning of the sanctions against platforms like Tornado Cash. While they can be useful for noble purposes like charity, there is still the arduous task of stopping cybercrime as well.  

More Restrictions to Tornado Cash

Now that U.S entities and persons have been prohibited from using the platform, some crypto entities are beginning to take action.

On Tuesday, two major web3 development platforms Alchemy and blocked all RPCs (Remote Procedure Calls) to Tornado Cash. Inadvertently, this has caused their user to be unable to use the mixing protocol to transact with these web3 platforms.

Also yesterday, 44 addresses linked to Tornado Cash had over 75K $USDC worth of funds frozen by Circle.  These addresses are now by extension sanctioned by the US OFAC. Circle is the issuer of the $USDC stable coin and is in some ways in charge of its regulation.

Tornado Cash’s management in the past had refused to put up any restrictions on its mixing services. However, after the infamous Ronin hack, it put in place a system to censor addresses sanctioned by the U.S Office of Foreign Affairs Control (OFAC).

The system prevents sanctioned addresses from accessing the platform’s UI (user interface) while still keeping the protocol’s smart contract’s architectural structure unchanged. 


Even though a statement by one of its founders Roman Semenov suggests that there were better alternatives to a UI restriction, there haven’t been any changes to this policy yet.

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