Eben Moglen, an expert on computers and privacy and a law professor at Columbia Law School, is alarmed by Egypt’s recent success at isolating that country from the rest of the Internet. So alarmed, in fact, that he has accelerated his efforts to build an “Internet in a box” that would operate independently of governments and big companies, according to The New York Times.
His idea is to create small (the size of cellphone chargers) network servers that he calls “Freedom Boxes.” They run low-power chips, plug into the wall, and can be built for under $100. (Watch this video on how they work.) The specifics are vague, because the software to turn them into wide-ranging network devices doesn’t exist yet. But the idea is that the boxes will be owned by individuals and link together, forming independent networks that do not rely on commercial Internet service providers. That’s important because such companies are vulnerable to government pressure—the kind of pressure that cut Egypt off from the rest of the world when protests started there. Mr. Moglen has started the Freedom Box Foundation to kick-start software development efforts for these little servers.