APPLICANT NAME: Santiago Saavedra Lopez
TEAM COMPOSITION: A group of natural persons
PROJECT SECTOR: [“Energy & sustainability”,“Open Innovation”]
[“Distributed ledger technologies”,“Peer to peer technologies”,“Others”] Providing a self-hosted privacy-focused cloud alternative by decentralization of services
Heimdall is a trust-enhancing platform that enables the use of decentralized and auditable applications that provide a self-hosted alternative to the widespread usage of third-party cloud services for users who care about their privacy. Our initial offering will be a small device that users can connect in their home and start using their own fully-owned cloud-like services such as email, calendar or storage without third parties hosting any private content. It will include a marketplace to install applications and keep them updated. Apps must be only free software, in order to ensure privacy and third-party auditability. Our goal is to make a self-hosting appliance for home use that is easier and more convenient to use than managed services. A decentralized network that allows encrypted communication between Heimdall devices will allow seamless integration with the Tor network and further value-added services, such as a trustless P2P backup system.
Our initial target is privacy-concerned people; e.g., activists that needs privacy protection, lawyers and journalists that need to be cautious because they manage sensible data; and developers because they know how SaaS manage our data and they are concerned about it. The market is growing very fast: e.g., ProtonMail has grown from 2 to 10 million users in 2018, DuckDuckGo queries are growing exponentialy close to 500K monthly and there are more than 2 million users in Tor everyday.
Pablo and Santiago have been working together since 2009 as hacktivists in FOSS technologies and both founded VACmatch, sports startup. Pablo is actually running Arengu, another startup; both have a lot of experience running businesses. They work with Sofia, an experienced designer, in Trackula project to raise awareness and to show how web pages are tracking users and they have been awarded by Spanish Data Protection Agency in the “Personal data protection investigation” category by their work in Madrid MediaLab-Prado. They were invited to Data Commons Lab and SummerLab2018 in Tabakalera (San Sebastian) to research about privacy, where David joined the team with his large experience in hardware technologies. Trackula presented its work in FOSDEM 2019 and started to work with Cliqz to integrate it in another tool to identify data leaks in webs and at the same time we are working with a group of international partners to use Trackula to investigate and report GPDR infractions in webs.
Mainly the LEDGER grant will be used to cover salaries to allow co-founders to work full time in this project. The remaining of the budget will be used to develop the hardware device, including the cost of prototypes to test this project in a real environment; to invest in different marketing approaches, like using digital marketing or running physical actions to raise awareness around privacy issues and data leaks, including travel to attend and talk at privacy-related events.
There is no easy to use alternative to SaaS clouds, there are some competitors as The Helm (not open source/not easily auditable) and FreedomBox (not focused on energy-efficiency, lack of usability and integration, complex auditability). Other alternatives could be NAS-based segment as MyCloud but these kind of devices are too technical for an average user and they lack integration with privacy-enhancing technologies. We will sell online using a strategy based on high quality content creation, running physical events to rise awareness about privacy and contributing to communities, giving talks, participating in citizen labs and partnering with NGOs and activist groups. We are already participating in events because our goal is to be a reference in the privacy world. Heimdall will be an easy to use privacy and self-hosted cloud, adding community projects and allowing users to deploy decentralized applications to help distributed and federated services as Tor or Matrix in its growth.