SuperGenius Eben Moglen wants free and unfettered access to the internet and he’s putting his money where his mind is by creating the “FreedomBox” — a device that plugs into the wall and gives you unfettered and unrestricted access to the internet — to help make certain that a government cannot disconnect its people from communicating with the rest of the world during a perceived crisis.

“It is not hard, when everybody is just in one big database controlled by Mr. Zuckerberg, to decapitate a revolution by sending an order to Mr. Zuckerberg that he cannot afford to refuse,” Mr. Moglen said.

By contrast, with tens of thousands of individual encrypted servers, there would be no one place where a repressive government could find out who was publishing or reading “subversive” material.

In response to Mr. Moglen’s call for help, a group of developers working in a free operating system called Debian have started to organize Freedom Box software. Four students from New York University who heard a talk by Mr. Moglen last year have been building a decentralized social network called Diaspora.

Here’s the direct argument for the FreedomBox from their website:

Because social networking and digital communications technologies are now critical to people fighting to make freedom in their societies or simply trying to preserve their privacy where the Web and other parts of the Net are intensively surveilled by profit-seekers and government agencies. Because smartphones, mobile tablets, and other common forms of consumer electronics are being built as “platforms” to control their users and monitor their activity.

Freedom Box exists to counter these unfree “platform” technologies that threaten political freedom. Freedom Box exists to provide people with privacy-respecting technology alternatives in normal times, and to offer ways to collaborate safely and securely with others in building social networks of protest, demonstration, and mobilization for political change in the not-so-normal times.

If you’re still confused as to what FreedomBox is and what it actually does, you can read more about it on Kickstarter where Eben and his associates are trying to raise some seed money for the project:

Freedom Box is the name we give to a free software system built to keep your communications free and private whether chatting with friends or protesting in the street.

Freedom Box software is particularly tailored to run in “plug servers,” which are compact computers that are no larger than the power adapters for electronic appliances.

Located in people’s homes or offices such inexpensive servers can provide privacy in normal life, and safe communications for people seeking to preserve their freedom in oppressive regimes.

I was a big Kickstarter fan until I tried to invest at the $250.00USD level for the Haptica Braille watch:

Hmm. This morning I went to put our skin in the game at the $250.00 level and in the payment process there was a warning from Amazon — the investments processor for Kickstarter — that the money would be tied up from today until JUNE 4, 2011. Why? If the deadline for the Kickstarter project is March 4, 2011 and the project does not get funded — why does Amazon continue to place a $250.00 hold on my credit card for another three months?

We did not invest.

I deleted my Kickstarter account.

Now Amazon’s payment policies may not bother you as a Kickstarter investor, but you should be aware of that odd matter of holding up your available credit on your credit card for months after the deadline if a Kickstarter project fails.

I love the idea of a FreedomBox and I will certainly buy one the moment they are available.

6 Comments

    1. That’s interesting, Gordon. It doesn’t make any sense what Amazon is doing. I’d much prefer they take the $250 now and then credit it back if the project fails. I know the credit card companies don’t like that sort of reversal and I wouldn’t want to wait three months after the failed project closes to get my money back — but at least the money would be in a certifiable state instead of in some sort of ethereal “there but not there” netherworld.

    1. Nick!

      What a fantastic video. It actually takes your breath away. FINALLY we have someone — Eben Moglen — who can elucidate the truth in a blunt, and frankly, scary way. He gives us the shock treatment we need.

      Keep the information coming! Keep the pipes free! Let us know what you know!

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