Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Inherently, there is an assumption that the Internet can instantly facilitate cohesive communities, however, we have seen that this has not been the case.
In many places, the network is frail. Access is ad-hoc, unreliable or incompatible. Crises render the network unreliable (Egypt or Syria), absent (Sendai) or even treacherous (China). Elsewhere, censorship, privacy invasion and lack of security restrict direct personal communication.
A few web sites carry most internet communication. They steer interaction toward monetizable channels and toll-taking gatekeepers. They give your private communication to hostile governments. Social networking sites sell you, your personal data, and your social graph to advertisers in the guise of creating infrastructure that fosters community.
Digital infrastructure is everywhere inadequate for safe, unmediated direct interpersonal communication. This inhibits cooperation and community organization. It prevents the kind of communities that make momentous social change in the face of powerful opposition and daunting obstacles.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
FreedomBox will put in people's own hands and under their own control encrypted voice and text communication, anonymous publishing, social networking, media sharing, and (micro)blogging.
We need a robust, open network architecture to serve popular needs from the pipes up to the user. The solution is decentralized infrastructure so all the people on the network can communicate free of external or artificial barriers.
Much of the software already exists: onion routing, encryption, virtual private networks, etc. There are tiny, low-watt computers known as plug servers to run this software. The hard parts is integrating that technology, distributing it, and making it easy to use without expertise. The harder part is to decentralize it so users have no need to rely on and trust centralized infrastructure.
That's what FreedomBox is: we integrate privacy protection on a cheap plug server so everybody can have privacy. Data stays in your home and can't be mined by governments, billionaires, thugs or even gossipy neighbors.
FreedomBox assembles robust software, makes that software work well together, and configures it to be as easy as possible to use. We provide that software for free under open source licenses to hardware vendors who install the software on low-cost plug servers, which they sell. Other people will download our software for free and install it themselves on their existing hardware (a spare netbook, perhaps).
With FreedomBoxes in their homes, anybody, regardless of technical skill, can easily enjoy secure, private, even anonymous communication!