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Des Femmes Updates March 2023
In this issue, we highlight the right to privacy, community spotlight, job opportunities, and in-person events
Hello and welcome back to the Des Femmes newsletter! 👋
We’re looking for sponsors for the 2023 mentorship program, and welcome conversations with any organization or person that values women’s financial literacy as much as we do. If you’re a community member who would like to participate in the University of Maryland’s Master Money Mentor program, you can reserve your spot by sending $100 via Venmo to @desfemmesmag (with the transaction set to private and your email in the description). Or, you can DM @desfemmesmag on Instagram or Twitter if you prefer a bitcoin address.
As a special perk for our early community funders, if you own a Des Femmes NFT from 2021 or 2022 you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free membership program reservation. More details about mentorship program details coming this summer. In the meantime, congratulations to 2022 mentorship program graduate Ekenimoh Elyan, who recently won a grant from the Human Right Foundation Bitcoin Development Fund! 🎉
We’re excited to introduce upcoming community leaders for our Des Femmes programs in 2023, including Erin Lyman, another outstanding graduate from the previous mentorship program.
But first, a reflection on self-sovereignty from community member and newsletter editor Sterling Schuyler (nice to virtually meet you all!) about the Tornado Cash trials in Amsterdam.
Tornado Cash and the Right to Privacy
The right to privacy is a foundational aspect of self sovereignty. While public blockchains are available for anyone to view, there are many protocols, companies, and creators working to protect and defend people’s privacy.
Tornado Cash is one of those protocols: it’s a crypto mixer that makes it harder to track the user’s wallet transactions. However, on August 8, 2022, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned the protocol, and on August 10, 2022, Russian developer (and Dutch resident) Alex Pertsev was arrested in the Netherlands.
Since then, there have been two pro forma hearings, and a third has been scheduled for April 20. I attended the second hearing on February 15, which concluded that 1) he’s a flight risk; and 2) there’s not enough evidence yet to bring charges against him.
There’s obviously a lot to unpack here, so for our feminist community that promotes self sovereignty and wealth creation, I want to focus on just some of the implications for anyone participating in the crypto ecosystem.
During the hearing, the prosecution seemed to spend a lot of time (nearly an hour) explaining how Tornado Cash works, in order to conclude that it’s bad. More strikingly, it seems they’re still trying to determine whether Pertsev profited from criminal transactions processed through Tornado Cash.
In regards to the technology itself, the court still has yet to determine whether Pertsev profited from criminal transactions via the Tornado Cash token or a relayer. TORN gives token holders the ability to participate in the protocol’s governance, which includes processing transactions. This, then, begs the question: are TORN holders complicit with any illegal activities?
Pertsev’s arrest in itself presented another huge question in 2022: Can participating in open source projects be illegal? Can a developer be arrested for how other people use their code?
These questions remain unanswered. For our sake, although we’re very interested in privacy tech in general, we’ll wait until the end of the trial before determining whether our community will learn about mixers in any capacity.
What felt most frustrating about the hearing was that no one—not the prosecution, the panel of judges, and nor even the defense, to some extent—seemed to fully understand the nature of how the technology works. The first hour of the nearly four-hour hearing seemed to be spent explaining Tornado Cash.
Des Femmes does not provide legal or investment advice, but we encourage all our members to seek out as much information as possible when making decisions about your self sovereignty—maybe someone in our community can help you too!
Special thanks to the Dutch-speaking attendees from the CryptoCanal group, as well, who helped me clarify some of the gaps in my understanding of the proceedings in Amsterdam. And now, for a little introduction directly from our newest community leader, Erin, below.
My name is Erin and I’m going to be exploring technical solutions related to Des Femmes programs in 2023, including payment processing options and bitcoin wallets.
I have spent the last 8 years as a software engineer / team lead in the fintech industry. By day, I am a machine learning engineer on the data platform team. By night, I am the owner of Code Sprinkles, a company offering boutique web development services to femtech and sextech entrepreneurs. If you have or are considering starting your own business and need some assistance with your web presence, I would love to schedule a consultation with you. You can reach me at codesprinkles[at]proton.me
I look forward to developing tools to make accepting crypto payments easier for small entrepreneurs. I am passionate about women’s financial sovereignty and very excited to be working with Des Femmes! If you’re interested in this work, too, feel free to connect on LinkedIn.
For a quick reminder about our partnership with the nonprofit Women in Blockchain, we’d encourage any badass lady in the community who is looking for a job to upload her resume and skills to the WiB career development portal. You'll receive direct intros to companies on your own terms. It's an invite-only and ongoing resource. If you are hiring, post your job openings to WiB’s job board too.
Both Des Femmes and WiB have collectively achieved what was to us unimaginable: offered networking tools; sponsored travel, accommodation and tickets to conferences; written and published research pieces; presented career opportunities; offered educational resources; increased diversity in panels; made lots of new friends; and so much more. On many occasions, we have also joined forces to celebrate together in cities like Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Paris, expanding our network above and beyond.
Over the next few weeks, be sure to connect with WiB organizers on April 21-22 at the MIT Bitcoin Expo and Des Femmes community member Stacie Waleyko at Boston Bitdevs on April 20, if you’re in town.
We’re excited about creating experiences for women who want to build wealth together and grow their fintech skills. We’ll keep you up to date on all the accomplishments and opportunities we face on this adventure together. 👭
Until next time, stay curious!
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