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article image'Anonabox' Tor router pulled from Kickstarter

By James Walker     Oct 19, 2014 in Technology
The anonymising "Anonabox" broadband router has had its successful crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter pulled within just days of it starting amid complaints about the device's legitimacy.
Two days after the launch of the funding drive, Kickstarter has emailed those who pledged support and August Germar, head of Anonabox, saying that the product has been pulled from fundraising on their site, despite it having raised $600,000 for a $7,500 target in just two days.
Kickstarter said "We take the integrity of the Kickstarter system very seriously. We only suspend projects when we find strong evidence that they are misrepresenting themselves or otherwise violating the letter or spirit of Kickstarter’s rules. As a policy, we do not offer comment on project suspensions beyond what is stated in this message." Germar responded to the incident by commenting "You know as much as I do about this. They [Kickstarter] haven’t told me anything. I think there are was [sic] a lot of negative press. A lot of people didn’t want the device to exist."
Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA internet snooping have led to a rise in the number of people trying to conceal their internet usage. With Anonabox now seemingly over as a project, some may turn back to traditional methods like VPNs, where popular favourite Hide My Ass regularly comes out top in reviews and user polls, or using the Tor Browser to directly access the network that Anonabox would have used.
The router has attracted criticism for many reasons. Although designed to route all traffic through the secure Tor network, hiding it from snooping, some point out how similar the box looks to off-the-shelf cheap Chinese hardware, theorising that the whole thing is a scam. Side-by-side comparisons certainly appear to show a very similar circuit board and body.
Germar seemed surprised when alerted to this in a Reddit Ask Me Anything, saying that it was possible the factory building the device has sold the plans on and admitting that the two units look the same. He says that the Anonabox software is different, better and more secure though.
In any case, it doesn't look as though anyone will necessarily ever be sure right now as without funding the device cannot launch. Prior to the campaign being pulled, many had already withdrawn their pledges to a total of $585,549 as the hardware controversy became apparent so it is easy to see Kickstarter's motives in removing it from the site.
More about anonabox, Tor, Router, Kickstarter, Fundraising
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