If a new Kickstarter campaign is any indication, Internet users are quite willing to pay for the ability to browse the Web anonymously.
That's what Anonabox promises. It’s a 2.4-inch by 1.6-inch Internet router that will anonymize a user’s Internet activity by routing their ethernet or Wi-Fi connection through Tor, the software designed to hide online activity. Thought up by a group of IT professionals over beer and tacos, the Kickstarter aimed for $7,500 in 30 days -- only to raise over $500,000 with 27 days to go.
“When we first started building it, I had no idea that anyone would be interested in it,” August Germar told the Guardian. “Initially we thought there would be enthusiasm from developers, journalists and librarians. But it turns out there are a lot more regular users.”
Tor was originally developed by the CIA to give agents in the field the ability to safely and securely share intelligence with Washington. Since then, though, the project has been taken up by a community of activists dedicated to preserving privacy online. Tor is increasingly popular under repressive government regimes, but has also been demonized by the FBI and National Security Agency for cloaking users, thus helping them visit Internet black markets.
Germar said the Kickstarter money will help the Anonabox team make enough devices and increase the speed of production. It will be available for between $45 and $51, he said.
“I think it’s not so much about privacy as about freedom of speech and freedom of information,” Germar explained to the Guardian. “This allows people to access information when people might try to censor them.”