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Kickstarter Suspends $600k Crowdfunded Anonabox Project

By , October 18th, 2014 | One Comment


Kickstarter cancelled the $600k Anonabox crowdfunding due to rule violations
The popular crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, has suspended one of its campaigns after a controversy surrounding the prospective product. Anonabox was supposed to be a device promising an easy, anonymous alternative to regular browsing. An instant success, it far surpassed its original $7,500 goal to earn more than $600,000 from Kickstarter backers. With a ground-breaking mission and obvious support from the public, why did Kickstarter ban the impending goldmine?

Anonabox was marketed as a home networking device that would allow users, through the anonymity of a Tor browser, to encrypt their network traffic. The box was designed simply. All the user needed do was connect their router through an Ethernet cable, with one more connection either wirelessly through your desktop/laptop, or through another Ethernet cable. This would enable users to funnel all of their browsing information through the Tor browser, providing complete anonymity.

August Germar, the creator of the device, claimed he had been working on the project for the last four years, and the device he created was an entirely original product. As Anonabox garnered more attention, some began to see that the device looked all too familiar.

While Kickstarter does not comment on individual missions, a link to the policies regarding suspensions was provided by representative David Gallagher. The relevant policy states that suspension is warranted if a project is misrepresented or fails to disclose relevant facts. Users on Reddit pointed out that Anonabox’s “entirely original” hardware was actually already commercially available for $20, while Germar planned to charge a minimum of $45 for his piece. Germar responded to the Reddit thread by hosting an Ask Me Anything session, an endeavor which actually exposed more holes in Anonabox’s fabric.

In the AMA session, Germar revealed that he had approached “a supplier” about adding more flash memory to the device. The hardware in question was found to be made in Asia, leading many to believe he simply purchased them in bulk and had no contact or intention of partnering with the supplier. He also refused to release certain codes used in securing anonymity, and one Reddit user pointed out that the device not only is shipped with a back-door password, but actually has an open wireless network, among other discrepancies that could pose serious privacy risks.

Anonabox may not have been the answer consumers were looking for, but its failure is not without purpose. Its fundraising success highlights the fact that internet users are keen to find an easy way to browse the internet anonymously. If the sheer amount of support for such a project is any indication, we will definitely be seeing similar, working methods of anonymous browsing in the marketplace, and very soon.

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Comments

  • david says:

    Glad they discovered the fraud before he got hold of the money. That’s the problem with a lot of these crowdfunding projects. No transparency to know if you are being scammed or not.

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