Tornado Cash's Code Is Back on GitHub

GitHub has restored the Ethereum coin mixer's code to its website, but is still illegal to use the protocol for transactions.

Tornado Cash's Code Is Back on GitHub
Photo: Tornado Cash

Key Takeaways

  • GitHub has lifted a ban on Tornado Cash, restoring the platform's code and profile to its website.
  • Last week, the Treasury clarified that sanctions against Tornado Cash do not apply to its code.
  • Tornado Cash addresses are still sanctioned and interacting with those addresses is prohibited by law.

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The Ethereum coin mixer Tornado Cash’s code has returned to GitHub after an absence of over one month.

Tornado Cash Code Is Back Online

The code for Ethereum’s popular coin mixer is back on GitHub.

On August 8, the U.S. Treasury issued sanctions against Tornado Cash addresses. That led GitHub to ban the accounts of the service and its developers almost immediately.

Last week, the Treasury clarified that sanctions against Tornado Cash only apply to the coin mixer’s Ethereum addresses—not to the code behind the application itself. Those clarifications specified that although Tornado Cash transactions are prohibited, “interacting with [the] open-source code itself … is not illegal.”

GitHub presumably took notice of this of its own accord or had the update brought to its attention by the community.

At least one high-profile individual advocated for Tornado Cash’s restoration. Ethereum core developer Preston Van Loon pressed for the ban to be lifted on September 13. He noted today that GitHub has now “unbanned the Tornado Cash organization and contributors on [its] platform.”

Tornado Cash’s return to GitHub does not mean that development on the coin mixer will continue as usual. All pages under the project’s main profile are tagged as public archives—a status that could be lifted but which implies that no future development is permitted.

“It looks like everything is in ‘read only’ mode, but that is progress from an outright ban,” Van Loon noted. He urged GitHub to fully restore the account’s former status.

A separate, unofficial archive of the protocol’s code has been on GitHub since August 24. That archive was created by Johns Hopkins University professor Matthew Green.

Tornado Cash’s future remains uncertain despite these developments. Sanctions on Tornado Cash addresses that prohibit its use remain in place, but users can still access the service due to its decentralized nature.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and other cryptocurrencies.

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