Kickstarter has suspended the campaign for Anonabox, a $45-internet router, owing to controversy.
Anonabox touted as "an open source embedded networking device designed specifically to run Tor" had a fundraising goal of $7,500 and with 8,928 backers, it managed to raise $585,549 in just five days. August Germar, the developer of Anonabox claimed that it would make a user's online activity anonymous.
However, on Friday, Oct. 16, afternoon Kickstarter canceled the fundraiser for the project post online backlash from Reddit users that the developers of Anonabox were misleading consumers and had lied about the device's origins. The Redditors also alleged that the developer was re-selling gadgets that were already made in China and were misrepresenting the hardware details.
Several Redditors also pointed out that the Anonabox distinctly resembled mini routers that were currently available in the market. Some even posted links to Chinese wholesaler Ali Express listing a similar-looking device and challenged Germar to admit that he was using these products and had not made the hardware himself.
Reddit users also posted images of the Anonabox alongside existing devices, as well as the comparison of the circuit boards. With the project becoming controversial, individuals asked for the project to be pulled of the Kickstarter page prompting the move from the crowdfunding site.
Kickstarter spokesperson David Gallagher did not divulge the exact reason for the suspension of the fundraiser for Anonabox, but cited company policy.
Germar, on the other hand, is defending his stance and revealed to ArsTechina that he was not expecting what has happened. He also revealed that the links to Chinese products which are being highlighted did not exist when he undertook the project.
"The hardware that is being linked to did not exist when I started working on this, otherwise I would have done a Kickstarter four years ago. I think those are just generic knockoffs, they were being made in China," said Germar.
However, he was unperturbed by the appearance of the same and was "glad" that the "hardware is available now" and people could purchase them from China.
Kickstarter has told its backers that their money will not be collected. Kickstarter does not charge money from its pledgers till the funding period of a project ends and that too if the project attains the goal.