When it launched on Kickstarter earlier this week, the Tor-enabled router project known as Anonabox successfully tapped into thousands of Internet users’ desire for simpler privacy tech. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ready for the scrutiny that success brought with it.
In its first three days online, Anonabox’s campaign raised more than $600,000—more than 80 times its Kickstarter goal of $7,500—by promising a portable, $45 router that would direct all a user’s traffic over the anonymizing network known as Tor. But as of Thursday morning, the backlash against that project had become so severe that its total funding was actually ticking down rather than up, as disillusioned backers pulled their pledges faster than others could make them. The comments section on the Kickstarter page had filled with users accusing the project’s creators of fraud, many asking Kickstarter to cancel the fundraiser.
On Friday afternoon Kickstarter suspended the crowdfunding campaign for Anonabox with Kickstarter backers on the suspended Anonabox funding page mostly applauded the site’s decision to reverse their pledges. “Kickstarter thanks for protecting us! Good call,” wrote one user. “Thanks everyone for exposing this!” added another.
But some users were dismayed to see that the project was cancelled and wrote that they would be willing to fund a similar attempt to create a hardware-based Tor device if it were restarted elsewhere. “Regardless of [Kickstarter] rules being broken (and the apparently ‘drama’ surrounding it), I’d still like to get my hands on one,” wrote one backer. “So where?”