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Crypto Community Backs Tornado Cash Founders in Quest For Privacy

Since launch, the fund to support the legal defence of Tornado Cash co-founders has collected over $460,000.

Tornado Cash Founders Roman Storm and his fellow co-founders Alexey Pertsev and Roman Semenov

Privacy advocates, Web3 developers, and users from both within and outside of the crypto community are helping the co-founders of the Tornado Cash service to fund their ongoing legal defence against U.S. authorities.

Roman Storm and his fellow co-founders Alexey Pertsev and Roman Semenov are facing a series of money laundering violations due to their role in creating the famous crypto mixer, which was sanctioned by the U.S. authorities in August 2022.

In a video posted on X, Roman Storm, one of the protocol’s coders, asked the Web3 community to contribute to his legal defence, stating, “This legal battle will affect you. So please help contribute to my legal defense, because this case will set a major precedent for years to come.”

In August 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Storm and Semenov with conspiring to launder money with the North Korean hacking group Lazarus. Storm has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is now waiting for the trial scheduled for September this year.

For the crypto community, the criminal case against the coders is not about their actions. It is a case of data privacy and government overreach. Ethereum developer Ameen Soleimani explained, “If they lose, they face imprisonment, and government overreach—holding protocol developers responsible for the crimes of users—will reach only further.”

The matter also reaches outside of crypto. Software developers fear that if the Tornado Cash developers are found guilty, it creates a precedent for the U.S. authorities to persecute people for the code they write.

Co-founder of Bankles Ryan Sean Adams has called this a “battle for our fundamental freedom to write software and keep our data private,” adding, “We lose this, maybe they come for https next.”

Users have formed an activist group to support the co-founders, Free Pertsev & Storm, and created a decentralized autonomous organization, JusticeDAO, for the same purpose. This week, the group has launched a one-month fundraising campaign to obtain funds for the legal defence of the developers.

NSA whistleblower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden has also declared his support for the cause, stating, “Privacy is not a crime.” The fund has already received over $460,000 in the two days since it started, with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin contributing 12.6ETH.

In the video pleading with the crypto community for help, Storm spelt out his feelings, stating, “Honestly, I am scared. But also hopeful that this community cares with a passion.”