End-to-end encryption has long been despised by the government. The attempt to assassinate Tornado Cash is simply the latest chapter in this long-running conflict.

Tornado Cash is the most recent chapter in the assault on encryption.

The United States government’s penalties on Tornado Cash have rekindled a widespread debate over privacy. Such a federal government action appears unprecedented to many in the very young crypto world. However, squabbles between the private sector and the state over privacy are nothing new, and they can give intriguing insights into what we should anticipate next for privacy in the crypto business.

Phil Zimmermann launched Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) in the 1990s, one of the first publicly accessible public-key cryptography programs with end-to-end (E2E) encryption. Zimmerman’s development spurred a criminal inquiry, which was subsequently dismissed, culminating in federal court judgments that allow encryption under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This conflict for personal privacy was termed the “encryption wars.”

Today, authorities from the United States and other governments are encouraging big tech companies to abandon robust E2E encryption in their products. This would provide law enforcement access to a vast array of sensitive personal data.

The cryptocurrency wars

The censure of Tornado Cash by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is the latest chapter in the encryption warfare. The OFAC sanction is symbolic of being the first explicit prohibition on an application itself, removing the difference created by another Treasury agency, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, between “suppliers of anonymizing services” and “anonymizing software providers” (FinCEN).

Recognizing that software may be disconnected from a business controlled by a group or a person, Representative Tom Emmer requested clarity on the sanctions in a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last month. This ruling represents one of the most serious privacy confrontations since Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency’s extensive surveillance methods.

Is history repeating or rhyming?

The fines are reminiscent of when PGP was used to justify an outright ban on data encryption.
Fortunately, the ban’s final failure resulted in online innovation such as internet commerce, personal communication, and secure logins. Maintaining the penalties on Tornado Cash, on the other hand, sets a hazardous precedent that would bury technical advancements and any related economic development behind a pile of red bureaucracy.

To put it another way, criminals have used technical advancements for unlawful conduct throughout history, and prohibiting it would be more harmful than beneficial. If the Tornado Cash restrictions are not challenged, many things we take for granted may be threatened, while future innovations and discoveries we can’t even envision today may be hampered.

Society is fully aware of how big tech abuses our personal data on a large scale under the guise of “surveillance capitalism.” Web3 is being used to develop self-sovereign identification solutions that find a balance between privacy, responsibility, and regulation.

Humanity has a history of rejecting technological progress. According to Calestous Juma, early Motorola cell phones were dismissed as “rich people’s toys.” Mobile gadgets have progressed far beyond anyone’s expectations. According to Juma, people are more resistant to technical developments when the perceived advantage accrues to a tiny minority. Similarly, the chances of E2E encryption are being dismissed since privacy is reserved for criminals even in Tornado Cash.

Users will manage their identifying data on the web’s multichain future without losing personal privacy or security. Instead of depending on digital service providers and government, communities should engage in ethical self-regulation. Moral conduct may be readily incentivized, allowing ethical code and the wisdom of the majority to police ecosystems

After all, programming is just another kind of communication. Some individuals use their words for good, while others use them negatively. Unsavory or hateful usage of the English language should not prevent others from writing. As a result, the OFAC sanctions are unlawful and should be challenged. Humanity deserves better even in Tornado Cash.

Natasha Dean

With an eye for detail and understanding of this exciting industry. My experience has given me an understanding of crypto trends and how to effectively break them down. I have a soft spot for NFTs and the Metaverse.