Tornado Warning for Free Speech

You may not be into cryptocurrency, but a recent incident involving a so-called “cryptocurrency mixer” has some important implications for privacy and free speech. Today we’ll examine the relative anonymity of cryptocurrency transactions, tools that can be used to enhance that anonymity, and why the code that created these tools – and the services that might host them – must be protected under the First Amendment. Along the way, we’ll explore the limits of free speech in the US and some interesting attempts to capture those rights.

Kurt Opsahl is the Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading nonprofit defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation.

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Further Info

Table of Contents

Use these timestamps to jump to a particular section of the show.

  • 0:00:42: Interview setup
  • 0:02:43: How anonymous are cryptocurrency transactions?
  • 0:07:30: What is a cryptocurrency mixer and why would I use one?
  • 0:10:34: Kurt’s thoughts on “going dark”
  • 0:12:45: Physical currency is not technically anonymous, either
  • 0:14:07: How did the White House try to fix this problem?
  • 0:15:27: Who is OFAC and what is the SDN list?
  • 0:16:57: Who or what is Tornado Cash?
  • 0:20:23: What about Tornado Cash drew scrunity from the US Gov’t?
  • 0:22:08: How does all of this relate to free speech?
  • 0:26:22: One of the developers was arrested – what’s the EFF’s take on this?
  • 0:29:14: Is a platform responsible for illegal activities related to content they host?
  • 0:31:18: What’s the limit of free speech when it comes to software code?
  • 0:41:00: What free speech rights to platforms themselves have?
  • 0:44:42: What about attempts to turn code into books or T-shirts to gain protection?
  • 0:48:04: What’s next for the Tornado Cash case?
  • 0:55:12: Interview wrap-up
  • 0:55:46: Looking ahead