[“Distributed ledger technologies”,“Peer to peer technologies”,“Others”]
Providing a self-hosted privacy-focused cloud alternative by decentralization of data
Heimdall is a trust-enhancing platform that enables the use of decentralized and auditable applications, providing a self-hosted alternative to the widespread usage of third-party cloud services for users who care about their privacy.
Its initial offering will be an appliance 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 their private content.
It will include a marketplace to install applications and keep them updated. These apps must be only free software in order to ensure privacy and third-party auditability. 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 in the future.
Our goal is to make a self-hosting device adequate for home use that is easier and more convenient to use than managed services.
Our initial target is privacy-concerned people; e.g., activists who need privacy protection; lawyers and journalists, who need to be cautious because of the sensitive data they handle; and the developer community who know how SaaS manages 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.
We expect to share part of the subscription revenue with the community to foster innovation and incentivize apps to build for our own infrastructure, supporting our growth as well as that of the community.
Pablo and Santiago have been working together since 2009 as hacktivists in FOSS technologies and both founded VACmatch, sports startup. Pablo is currently running Arengu, another tech-based company. Both have assisted to several acceleration and mentorship programmes and have experience starting up businesses.
They’ve worked with Sofia, an experienced Designer, Illustrator and Architect, in Trackula, an citizen-science awareness project to show how web pages are tracking users. Together they have been awarded by the Spanish Data Protection Authority (the Spanish Data Protection Agency) the second prize of the “Personal data protection research prize” for their research work in Madrid talking about GDPR technical difficulties on the web. They were later invited to the Data Commons Lab and SummerLab2018 in Tabakalera (San Sebastian, Spain) to continue researching on privacy awareness, where David joined the team with his large experience on the hardware side of the technology.
Trackula jointly-presented its work in FOSDEM 2019 with Local-Sheriff, 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 personnel costs to allow co-founders allocate time to work in this project.
The remaining of the budget will be used on other tasks such as: prototiping the hardware device and covering the costs of materials and its assembly, testing the project in a real environment, investing in different marketing approaches such as digital marketing or physical actions to raise awareness around privacy issues and data leaks, or covering the expenses to attend and talk at privacy-related events, as well as participating in the program activities.
Current SaaS systems have been investing large on being scalable, when storage capacity is clearly linear with usage. Since our product bears the cost of capacity in a distributed manner, horizontal scalability is already a premise of the system. Our greatest concern is about upgradability: if a user wants more storage or performance, we will want to design an upgrade strategy that can be as seamless to the user as possible.
Since we will offer free software services, the strategy to grow as a product will include engaging with communities and helping them scale too.
For value-added services that may require external infrastructure, we will provide the software so that users can avoid our infrastructure and set services up themselves, if they desire not to have us as a possible point of failure. Users who trust us as a provider will have some traffic routed through our systems. We will take care of scale concerns in a way similar to other SaaS providers for these systems, but we will design them to minimize traffic and information passed through us.