Anonabox is removed from kickstarter due to plagiarism

Anonabox was created to provide Internet access and bypass censorship where access is limited. The device was removed from Kickstarter last Friday. (Photo Credit: linuxgizmos.com)

By Mikki Stacey, Staff Writer

The idea for Anonabox came about like many great ideas, over beer and tacos. This was a typical meeting for August Germar and his buddies from I.T. As they were finishing up their discussions, they noticed the news on the T.V. was about protestors in Egypt being prevented from using some forms of social media; they decided to try to invent a way to help and ordered another round.

After that, it took four more years, but they created Anonabox, a concealable, inexpensive device that “provides anonymous Internet access and encryption, and helps to bypass censorship in places where access is limited.” Their prototypes started at $200- $400 for just the materials needed to assemble the box. By the end of four years, it was on Kickstarter for $45. They needed it to be cheap so as many people as possible could have access to the technology.

There proved to be a demand for such a product. Their pledges quickly surpassed $600,000. Then, the controversy came into play. What made Anonabox so great is that it used Tor to give anonymous access without having to install anything and actually made the user experience faster. All users had to do was plug it in. Also, Germar claimed the device was 100% open source and open hardware. Thus, there were not backdoors that would be present with the use of like routers. Unfortunately, there has been some doubt about the truth of these statements, and Anonabox has been suspended from Kickstarter as of Friday October 17.

The issue is that a large portion of the hardware the device needs is not legally Anabox’s, and it is unclear how open source Anonabox truly is. The heaviest accusation is that of plagiarism. Anonabox is incredibly similar to Chinese devices that are already on the market.

Germar and his co- workers had the best intentions for Anonabox; they wanted to overcome unjustified censorship. However, Kickstarter’s suspensions are more like expulsions— permanent.

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Author: Isabel Gibson Penrose

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