John McAfee, the eccentric technology mogul who faked a heart attack during his time at a Guatemalan detention center after fleeing from Belizean police for the alleged murder of his neighbor, may still be most famous for his namesake anti-virus software.
Though McAfee has severed any connection between himself and McAfee Security, he's not yet ready to leave the tech world behind.
Speaking at the C2SV conference in Silicon Valley on Saturday, McAfee revealed his plans for a new company called Future Tense Central. The company's first product is D-Central, a hardware/software package still in development that aims to make any of its users anonymous and untraceable -- a product that could tap into the wariness of Americans in the wake of the National Security Agency data mining scandal.
"We don't have much [security] anymore, and certainly not in the online world," he said at Saturday's talk. "If you can give me just any small amount of information about yourself, I promise you, within three days, I can turn on the camera on your computer at home and watch whatever you're doing."
When asked by an audience member what he would do if the U.S. government wouldn't allow the kind of private communication afforded by his new product, McAfee didn't mince words.
"It's quite possible the federal government will not allow me to sell this product, too," McAfee told the audience. "But the federal government is not the world. I mean, if that happens, I will swallow it and I will sell it in England, and if I can't sell it there, I'll sell it in Japan, I'll sell it in China, I'll sell it in Russia, I'll go to the Third World. This is coming and it can't be stopped."
McAfee said D-Central isn't an attempt to create another type of Internet. Instead, D-Central combines many different pieces of technology into a single hardware/app package, compatible with both mobile devices and PCs.
From one point of view, it resembles a wireless router. "The device has a range of about three blocks in the city or a quarter of a mile out in the country," said McAfee. But instead of broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal that people use to access the Internet quickly, it broadcasts information that the device's owner wishes to declare public.
However, McAfee emphasized that while the information is in the public domain, the device owners' identities are not. "D-Central doesn't know who you are," said McAfee. "Every few minutes, [the device] changes its identification. There is simply no way to tell who is doing what, when or where."
He predicted that his Future Tense Central should have a prototype ready in six months and that the final product will less than $100. He also predicts that D-Central will sell. "I believe that anyone will want one," he said. "Anyone who's concerned about privacy, anyone who's concerned about security."
McAfee did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
|"There is simply no way to tell who is doing what, when or where."|
Dan Pulcrano, the principal organizer of C2SV, said that McAfee had been dropping hints about his new company, but that he didn't foresee this type of announcement. "With John McAfee, you never know what to expect," he told ABC News. "It could be some goofy entertainment stunt or something serious."
Pulcrano said that it's good timing on McAfee's part to announce D-Central this past weekend. "It's clear that there is movement now towards individual privacy and to find a way to deal with NSA," he said. "McAfee is smart enough to see that niche and use his celebrity status to promote his product over others."