Nov 12, 2014 · 2 minutes

Indiegogo will basically allow anyone with a bank account to use its crowdfunding platform. That's the only explanation for the site to allow Anonabox, the Internet router that promises to anonymize any activities made via its connection, to seek funding there after it was banned from Kickstarter.

Anonabox is uniquely suited to take advantage of Indiegogo's lack of scruples. It's a hardware project that people are effectively pre-ordering by supporting it; it's an anonymity-focused product debuting in Edward Snowden's wake; and it's complicated enough that the people who receive one in a few months (assuming it's not vaporware) won't know if it works as advertised.

I mean, there's a reason why the Anonabox project was able to raise more than $600,000 when it debuted on Kickstarter. Claiming a product can prevent surveillance is a snake oil salesman's paradise because people are worried about intelligence agencies, willing to purchase anything that might protect them from prying eyes, and unable to tell if a product truly works. What are they supposed to do, assume that intelligence agencies tell people when their data is gathered?

Fortunately for all its backers -- and unfortunately for Anonabox -- there are many who see through its claims. Take, for example, the company's claim that it made a unique processor for its router. It didn't. Instead, it took an off-the-shelf micro-router and added more memory so it could support Tor. Oh, and the software it used might actually undermine Tor's features and make it easier to track someone than if they used an insecure connection, Wired reports.

Anonabox didn't change its tune after it was booted from Kickstarter, either. Its creator is said to have lied about his involvement with the community supporting the Tor project, according to the Daily Dot, and it's asking backers to believe that it created a new "fifth generation" product in the few weeks between Kickstarter's decision to freeze its project and its debut on Indiegogo.

I had my misgivings about Anonabox back when it was heralded as the solution to our privacy woes. As I explained in a post about the project and the problems with its incredible promises:

So while it might be tempting to herald the Anonabox as yet another victory over the NSA and anyone else who might want to compromise their targets’ digital security, it’s also important not to overstate the effectiveness of any security tool, or to ignore the potential downsides of using a device that’s bound to add at least a few more people to the NSA’s list of surveillance targets.

That’s the world the NSA and other intelligence agencies have created — one where it’s hard to even get excited about interesting projects like the Anonabox because attempting to resist their spying could just end up making things worse. Surveillance programs are bad; the feeling that it’s impossible to beat them is worse. Now it seems that the Anonabox's problems go beyond its grand delusions that it can make us impervious to NSA surveillance. It's also a dubious project from a repeated liar that joined the drunken safety school of crowdfunding platforms after it was kicked out of a more respectable institution.