Kickstarter has suspended a popular gadget-crowdfunding campaign: Anonabox, which promised to anonymize its users’ traffic online to increase privacy.
In an email to backers on Friday afternoon, Kickstarter announced it had suspended Anonabox’s project and would cancel all donation pledges. The company said “a review of the project uncovered evidence that it broke Kickstarter’s rules.” According to Kickstarter’s rules listed on its website, projects must be “honest and clearly presented.” Anonabox appears to not have met that threshold.
Kickstarter’s move brought to an end one of the internet’s most talked-about new gadgets. In just a few days, Anonabox had managed to raise nearly $600,000 in donations from almost 9,000 backers. Criticism, however, came just as fast. In a Reddit Q&A discussion board and in articles online, users questioned Anonabox’s claims that its hardware was custom made and some even wondered if its software was even open-source, as claimed.
August Germar, one of Anonabox’s developers, tells Quartz that the device would now be sold via its website. He says he had received no warning from Kickstarter on why the popular project was suspended.
One accusation is that Anonabox’s hardware is a mere copy of Chinese-made routers at a far more expensive price. Germar says that’s not true, noting that its software is original. He also says Anonabox is speaking with two US manufacturers, but claims this was always in the plans. For now, he says there is still “huge interest” in the hardware, and that activists in Turkey and Hong Kong have requested orders of between 500 to 1,000 units in recent days. “For now, we’re still sort of re-grouping,” Germar says.
A Kickstarter rep tells Quartz it is the company’s policy to not comment on individual projects but notes that all ”project suspensions are permanent” and that Kickstarter suspends projects ”to safeguard the long-term health and integrity of the Kickstarter system.”