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Purism builds a secure tablet with physical wi-fi and camera switches

TechCrunch TechCrunch 20/05/2016 John Biggs

Purism, proud makers of one of the first truly open laptops, is moving into the world of pro-level tablets. Their latest product, the Librem 11, is a tablet that runs any GNU/Linux version (they recommend the ultra-secure Qubes) and can double as a laptop.

The company made waves with their 15 and 13 laptops and they are bringing the same level of security to the $1,299 tablet. While that’s a bit steep remember that this is custom hardware with security built in including hardware kill switches for WiFi, the camera, GPS, and cellular data.

Obviously a secure tablet like this isn’t for everyone. You can definitely get a cheaper device but, according to Purism, you’re paying for privacy and control. According to the Indiegogo page the tablet is “designed to help protect you from ad trackers, malware, ransomware, and surveillance capitalism” and “no identification is required to use or install applications.” Try that with your Android or iOS device.

“Purism was created to marry the philosophies of the free/libre and open source software movement with the hardware manufacturing process. Purism is devoted, at its heart and soul, to providing the highest quality hardware available, that ensures the rights of security, privacy, and freedom for all users,” wrote Purism CEO Todd Weaver.

In the end things like the Librem are niche products. You have to be a certain kind of paranoid to want a hardware kill switch for networking but, given the current growth of the surveillance state, that kind of paranoid is easier and easier to justify. While taping over your camera and installing Linux is a good start, having a piece of hardware custom-made for a surveillance-free future is a good thing and it’s great that someone, somewhere, is trying to build it.

The Librem 11 plans to ship in October 2016 if it reaches its crowdfunding goal of $150,000.

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