FreedomBox is the name of an award-winning project devoted to building small, low-cost computers that protect peoples´ privacy, security and anonymity while they use the Internet. On January 21, 2015, Version 0.3 of FreedomBox has been released. Speaking at the Elevate festival Graz, Austria, free software advocate and consultant James Vasile outlines the technical and political background and present status of development.
In this presentation at the legendary location for the legacy of Austrian avantgarde art, Forum Stadtpark, Vasile looks back at the way communication used to work in the early days of the internet. Stressing the importance of trust in communication networks, he proposes the FreedomBox as a possibility to create a convenient way for users to access encryption technology and to re-establish personal trust as the foundation of online interactions. The boxes themselves work as Debian plug servers and allow to run various software, including encrypted VOIP and email. They can also be used for routing connections around national censorship firewalls, or to replace social networking sites like facebook. For a software projekt, the development seems to be slow as Vasile is speaking in 2011, yet a closer look shows the complexity that is involved in `doing FreedomBox right´. More information on the project can be found on the project wiki at https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox
The project has received an Innovation Award at Contact Summit 2011, as well as an Ashoka ChangeMaker’s award for Citizen’s Media.