GitHub unbans Tornado Cash repositories following OFAC guidance

Ethereum developer Preston Van Loon encouraged GitHub to fully restore Tornado Cash’s repositories after partial unbanning.

Crypto mixer Tornado Cash has returned to the software development platform GitHub after several weeks of being banned on the website.

Ethereum developer Preston Van Loon took to Twitter on Thursday to report that GitHub has partly unbanned the Tornado Cash organization and contributors on their platform. The developer suggested that Tornado Cash’s code repositories are now in read-only mode, which means that GitHub is yet to restore full functionality.

“But that is progress from an outright ban. I still encourage GitHub to reverse all actions and return the repositories to their former status,” Van Loon stated.

According to GitHub data, the latest Tornado Cash repositories updates were made on Aug. 22, or shortly after Tornado Cash co-founder Roman Semenov reported that his account was on the platform. On Aug. 8, the United States Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) banned U.S. residents from using Tornado Cash and blacklisted 44 USD Coin (USDC) and Ether (ETH) addresses associated with the mixer.

Tornado Cash’s return to GitHub came soon after the OFAC clarified its policies around Tornado Cash on Sept. 13, declaring that U.S. residents would not be violating sanctions by copying the mixer’s code or making it available online. The OFAC also noted that U.S. persons would not be prohibited from visiting the Tornado Cash website if it again becomes available online.

Hey @github, please unban @TornadoCash code repositories now.

OFAC has stated: “U.S. persons would not be prohibited by U.S. sanctions regulations from copying the open-source code and making it available online for others to view”

— prestonvanloon.eth (@preston_vanloon) September 13, 2022

Based on the Ethereum blockchain, Tornado Cash is a tool allowing users to hide their crypto transactions to protect their anonymity by obfuscating information trails on the blockchain. The Ethereum mixer came under scrutiny from global regulators after the OFAC’s ban, which triggered arrests of Tornado Cash developers for alleged involvement in money laundering through the platform.

Related: Tornado Cash left a void, time will tell what fills it — Chainalysis chief scientist

The ongoing controversy around Tornado Cash has raised a lot of questions in the cryptocurrency and developer community, with many people becoming concerned about legal issues connected to writing open-source code. Some major crypto companies also pushed back against the Treasury Department’s actions, with Coinbase exchange deciding to support a lawsuit brought by Tornado Cash users against the OFAC.

As previously reported, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin publicly claimed that he used Tornado Cash to donate funds to Ukraine to protect the financial privacy of the recipients.

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