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The arrest of Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev in the Netherlands has resulted in widespread protests in the community.
Roughly a week earlier, Dutch law enforcement authorities arrested one of the developers of the infamous Tornado Cash app, Alexey Pertsev, on charges of fraud and asset confiscation. The Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) arrested Pertsev in Amsterdam as they suspected him of being involved in hiding illicit funds and facilitating money laundering through the app that he created. However, the move has severely angered the community, which is now banding together to arrange for Pertsev’s release.
Protestors, especially in Amsterdam, have claimed that the arrest indicates that governments are fixating on restraining the entire open source software segment. The protests have now snowballed into online petitions and campaigns raising awareness on the matter to preserve the “fundamentals of cryptocurrency” and seeking the immediate release of Pertsev from custody. A Change.org petition to #FreeAlex currently crossed over 2000 signatures out of its quota of 2500 and is continuing to garner support from the community.
“Code Is Not A Crime”
One of the main points of arguments put forth by the protesters is that “code is not a crime.” In the United States, code is considered to be under the free speech protection of the First Amendment to the country’s constitution. In Europe, the matter is still not fully fleshed out. Responding to the claims of the protesters, the FIOD pointed out that individuals behind decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) have profited largely from illicit money laundering incidents. However, they have not clarified if they suspected Pertsev to be involved in such an arrangement.
Hoskinson On Tornado Cash Ban
The arrest happened soon after the U.S. Treasury Department had announced a blanket sanction on the Tornado Cash app, which functions as a mixer tool to obfuscate the origin and transfer of crypto funds. In fact, according to a Treasury official, the mixer tool has been used explicitly by North Korean hacker group Lazarus and was responsible for siphoning away over $7 billion of digital assets since 2019.
More recently, Cardano founder and crypto expert Charles Hoskinson shared his two cents on the Tornado Cash matter, which is relevant to Pertsev’s arrest. According to Hoskinson, banning Tornado Cash sets a dangerous precedent as it sends the message that creators and developers have to be held responsible for the use of their code.
“When we write code, it’s an expression. As long as we don’t get involved in the running and use of that code for purposes, we’re just writing it, it’s like writing a book...Now in a free society, we generally allow people to do these types of things, and it’s deeply uncomfortable when they start saying no.”
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