NGI Impact Stories: Exceptional contributions by Next Generation Internet innovators

In the heart of Brussels, the NGI Forum 2023 witnessed the success and positive strides of the “NGI Impact Stories” activity on November 16th.

This activity highlighted some inspiring stories of the NGI initiative, delving into their commitment and showcasing their achievements in acceleration and exploitation. Beyond merely recounting accomplishments, these Impact Stories underscored the vibrant NGI community’s role in collectively shaping an Internet that prioritizes people.

The NGI Impact Stories captured the essence of individuals who pushed boundaries to forge a people-focused Internet. Initiatives such as Transatlantic SSI InteropPeerTube, E-Project, Tauri, and Open Food Facts exemplified the transformative impact of NGI, reshaping how we engage with the digital realm.

Each narrative served as a testament to the intersection of technology and passionate communities, inviting everyone to join this transformative journey where the Internet aligned with our needs and values.

🏅 Transatlantic SSI Interop

Envision a world where individuals have complete control over their digital identities. Let’s acquaint ourselves with Markus Sabadello, the featured speaker at the NGI Forum, who delivered an engaging presentation.

Consider this scenario: A notable increase in initiatives focusing on decentralized identity infrastructures, such as the European Blockchain Service Infrastructure (EBSI), aiming to establish a digital wallet for EU citizens. Simultaneously, the US Department of Homeland Security’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) contributes substantially to personal digital credentials.

💭 Now, let’s imagine these two interconnected narratives for a second:

  • Firstly, there is Eva’s Journey: an EU student aspiring to secure a US visa, navigating challenges with the involvement of an EU-based VC Issuer and a US-based Verifier.
  • There is Louis’s Aspiration: a US immigrant striving for a PhD at a European university, addressing obstacles with the support of a US-based VC Issuer and an EU-based Verifier.

This experiment broke down barriers, affirming that interoperability is an achievable objective. Facilitated by open-source libraries, components backed by ESSIF-Lab, and contributions from the Decentralized Identity Foundation’s Universal Resolver project, the “Transatlantic SSI Interop” experiment establishes a pathway for harmonious collaboration among diverse DID methods, VC types, vendors, ecosystems, and continents.

✨ After participating in various NGI programs (NGI AtlanticNGI eSSIF-LabNGI AssureNGI TrustNGI Zero), the “Transatlantic SSI Interop” experiment is a vivid example of its philosophy, moving towards a future where digital identity transcends geographical boundaries.✨

Learn more about this Impact Story by clicking here.

🏅 PeerTube

Once upon a time, a significant challenge emerged in the vast Internet world. People yearned to share videos but felt restricted by the dominance of YouTube and Twitch. They questioned whether creating their video-sharing platform demanded extensive resources and powerful computers.

In 2017, an exciting development unfolded as Pouhiou Lafon Roudier and a group of individuals embarked on a mission called PeerTube to make video sharing accessible without relying on tech giants. Embracing traditional internet values, they translated them into innovative technical solutions, enabling communities to establish video-sharing platforms.

The team at Framasoft, a small not-for-profit organization, dedicated six years of hard work to building PeerTube.

In 2021, they received assistance from the NGI Zero Discovery program, enhancing PeerTube’s search functionality, video presentation, and website customization. In 2023, a grant from the NGI Zero Entrust program introduced remote transcoding, enhanced video chapters, and simplified video uploads.

However, PeerTube’s mission goes beyond replacing YouTube or Twitch; it’s about offering an alternative and promoting freedom. The aim is to make PeerTube user-friendly and accessible to those who prefer not to rely on big tech companies.

✨ PeerTube’s journey is an inspiring testament to the potential of technology in the hands of a dedicated community led by Pouhiou Lafon Roudier. It allows more individuals and groups to share their stories, creativity, and ideas without dependence on tech giants. ✨

The impact of PeerTube extends across various horizons, touching the lives of institutions, educators, content creators, independent media, and everyday citizens:

✅ Institutions: The European Commission and the Netherlands’ Institute of Sound and Vision joined the PeerTube revolution.
✅ Educators: The French Ministry of Education’s “apps” platform and the University of the Philippines Diliman’s ILC quickly adopted PeerTube.
✅ Content Creators: PeerTube became the haven for content creators Skeptikon, TILvids, and Bunseed.
✅ Independent Media: French left-wing indie media outlet Blast and theatre commons media platform Howlround embraced PeerTube.
✅All Kinds of Citizens: PeerTube opened its doors to everyone, empowering ordinary citizens to share their stories, passions, and experiences.

Let’s look at the numbers to wrap up this journey. PeerTube boasts over 1,079 public instances, hosting 923,000 videos with 567 million views.

This incredible feat was achieved with just one paid developer until September, with a budget of around 600,000 euros—less than 0.0022% of YouTube’s ad revenues in 2022.🔥

Learn more about this Impact Story by clicking here.

🏅 E – Project

In the ever-evolving world of technology, where data privacy and sustainability are increasingly vital, Gaël Duval presented a unique project with a vision to offer people a mobile device choice that respects these principles.

This endeavour is led by two entities, a non-profit, E Foundation, and a for-profit, Murena, tackling the same goal from different perspectives. Their shared mission is clear: to ensure that individuals always have the option to select a mobile device – be it a smartphone or tablet – running open-source, privacy-respecting, and sustainable software.

Since the project’s inception in 2018, Murena and E Foundation have achieved incredible milestones:

✅ /e/OS – The Privacy Pioneer: They developed the world’s first Android, known as /e/OS, entirely ‘deGoogled,’ meaning it is completely privacy-safe, independently verified by academic research – the only Android that collects zero user data.
✅ Murena Cloud: Besides/e/OS, they created the Murena Cloud based on Nextcloud.
✅ Suite of Open-Source Apps: Murena and E Foundation have also developed two default apps: one for /e/OS and one for Murena Cloud. All these apps adhere to the principles of being open-source and privacy-safe.
✅ Advanced Privacy Module: Beyond their software, they go the extra mile to assist users in maintaining their privacy. They offer an ‘Advanced Privacy’ module that empowers people to block trackers device-wide, mask their location, and route their mobile traffic through TOR.
✅ Scaling Privacy: Their groundbreaking work has led to them becoming the first non-Google Android commercialized at scale. With an impressive and ever-growing user base of 35,000 active users, they’ve become pioneers in privacy-focused mobile solutions.
✅ Device Compatibility: /e/OS is not limited to a few devices. It can be installed on over 240 smartphones and tablets, ensuring users a wide range of choices.
✅ Hardware Line: Going beyond software, they’ve expanded their efforts to offer their hardware line, the Murena One, since 2022. This approach allows them to provide a holistic solution for those seeking privacy and sustainability.
✅ Sustainability Advocates: In their quest to make the mobile phone industry more sustainable, they have ensured that 100% of their servers run on renewable energy. They actively collaborate with phone brands prioritizing repairability, such as Fairphone and Teracube. Additionally, they offer uniquely extended support for mobile devices, with some of the smartphones they support being over a decade old.

But what makes Gaël Duval, Murena, and /e/OS even more extraordinary is their engagement with the Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative. They’ve actively participated in various NGI programs, further advancing their mission:

  • NGI Ledger: Their participation in NGI Ledger enabled them to champion projects focusing on privacy by design, openness, and data sovereignty. Notably, they developed the ‘Advanced Privacy’ module for /e/OS, a critical enhancement for user privacy.
  • NGI DAPSI: Murena and E Foundation joined NGI DAPSI to focus on data portability and interoperability. They upgraded the encryption of their cloud to end-to-end encryption (E2E) for specific components, ensuring even more robust data security.
  • NGI Search: Currently, they are active participants in NGI Search, where they are dedicated to improving search functionalities with a focus on open-source, privacy, and collaboration. Additionally, they are integrating the best LLM (Local Language Model) into /e/OS to enhance user experiences.
  • Mobifree: The e Foundation reached an important goal this year by starting the MobiFree project. This initiative gathers members from European countries to build a fair mobile software system that values privacy and openness. MobiFree contributes to the EU’s Digital Sovereignty for citizens and organizations by following open-source principles and using open data and standards.

The NGI initiative has played a pivotal role in enabling a paradigm shift in European IT. In the face of Big Tech monopolies and their data-driven revenue models, NGI has been a beacon of hope. Its fostering of privacy-centric solutions has created a robust OS that aligns perfectly with European values.

✨ In a digital world where data privacy and sustainability are paramount, they are pioneers, leading the charge for a more open, secure, and ethical mobile experience. Their journey is not just a story of technological innovation; it’s a tale of empowerment, choice, and the relentless pursuit of privacy and sustainability in our digital lives. ✨

Learn more about this Impact Story by clicking here.

🏅 Open Food facts:

Navigating the intricate landscape of global health and environmental consciousness, Alex Garel took the stage to illuminate a pressing matter: the significance of our dietary choices.

Over the past 50 years, obesity rates have surged globally, with 39% of adults categorized as overweight and 13% falling into the obesity spectrum. Moreover, the impact of our food choices on the environment is substantial, contributing to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, 70% of drinking water consumption, and the majority of packaging waste.

Amidst these challenges, a positive trend emerges. An increasing number of consumers express a willingness to take action, and producers are becoming more attuned to these sentiments. However, a crucial hurdle remains: providing the means to translate this willingness into tangible action.

To empower consumers, producers, researchers, and governments to measure and alter the impact of food on our health and the planet, Alex presented a vision of creating the world’s largest open-source food database.

With over 2.8 million food products catalogued across 160 countries, 2.9 million monthly users, and a community of over 20,000 contributors, Open Food Facts plays a vital role in shaping how we approach food. The platform not only facilitates searches but also supports a variety of criteria, catering to users concerned about a healthy diet, low environmental impact, allergies, ethical considerations, and more.

The reality, however, poses a challenge. Despite 34 million search journeys on Open Food Facts each year, only 2% of users utilize their search engine. The goal is clear:

✅ Searching for information should be as seamless as a good e-commerce experience.
✅ Fostering discoverability simplicity.
✅ The ability to make complex queries.

The NGI Search call came to the rescue in response to this challenge. Aligned with Open Food Facts‘ vision, the NGI Search initiative brings value to many, empowering people and positively impacting society. As a digital common good, NGI Search and Open Source are:

✅ A match made in heaven.
✅ Offering benefits such as streamlined onboarding and training.
✅ Easy reporting.
✅ An adequate budget for impactful projects.

The result of this collaboration is Search-a-licious, which was born to enhance the user experience. While not yet visible to the public, it promises increased relevance and speed, a powerful API, support for multiple languages, and a roadmap with exciting developments.

Beyond simple case, Search-a-licious becomes a versatile tool. It supports advanced scenarios for NGOs, journalists, researchers, policymakers, re-users, and contributors. The impact extends beyond food, as it will be utilized in sister projects handling pet food, cosmetics, and general products, serving as a reusable brick for innovators to build upon existing data collections.

✨Alex Garel’s presentation highlights a journey of addressing critical global issues surrounding food, health, and the environment. The NGI initiative through the NGI Search and NGI Zero Discovery programmes is an essential ally for making information accessible, fostering collaboration, and contributing to a better world.✨

Learn more about this Impact Story by clicking here.

🏅 Tauri

Tauri, an open-source Rust-based toolkit born to redefine how we approach the creation of desktop & mobile applications, occupies a unique space in the tech landscape, emphasizing the trifecta of small size, high performance, and robust security.

The numbers speak for themselves: Tauri is #95 on GitHub and boasts an impressive 100K weekly downloads on NPM. Furthermore, its significance is underscored by the acquisition of by AWS.🚀🚀

Central to Tauri’s philosophy is a commitment to securing the community as a first principle. Leveraging the security features inherent in Rust, the toolkit prioritizes secure defaults and opt-ins. It empowers developers to be conscious of security considerations, fostering a culture of awareness.

Regular audits further enhance the framework, ensuring that it aligns with the principles of security by design. Audit revisions for versions 1.0 and 2.0 under the NGI Zero program facilitated the necessary engineering changes to comply with audit results and conduct the audit. This achievement solidified Tauri’s claim of being secure by design and proof.

The NGI initiative also fueled research into the fusion of Tauri with Servo, marking a significant stride forward. By staying on the cutting edge and reducing reliance on monopolistic browser implementors, Tauri is now poised to develop a privacy-centric, security-enhanced, and identity-preserving European Browser.

As Daniel Thompson-Yvetot, our speaker, glimpsed into the future, he emphasized that building a more secure internet requires constructing a security foundation from the ground up. Tauri, in collaboration with CrabNebula Ltd. as a security partner, is committed to complying with the Cyber Resilience Act, providing security-focused systems to contribute to the resilience of the European economy.

✨This engaging presentation unveiled the Tauri Programme’s journey—a testament to the intersection of innovation, security, and the collaborative spirit fostered by the NGI initiative.✨

Learn more about this Impact Story by clicking here.

In summary, the “NGI Impact Stories” presented at the NGI Forum 2023 unveil a diverse and thrilling landscape of technological innovation, digital security, and collaboration. From breaking down borders in decentralized identity interoperability to revolutionizing video sharing with PeerTube, each story reflects a collective commitment to shaping an internet centred around people.

The E-Project, spearheaded by Gaël Duval, underscores the significance of choosing mobile devices based on open-source, privacy, and sustainability principles. Their active participation in NGI initiatives demonstrates a robust dedication to creating privacy solutions at scale.

Open Food Facts, led by Alex Garel, prompts reflection on the influence of our dietary choices on global health and the environment. Implementing the NGI Search Initiative strengthens accessibility to information and fosters collaboration for positive change.

Finally, Daniel Thompson-Yvetot, with the Tauri Programme, represents the evolution in desktop and mobile application development, highlighting the importance of security from its foundations. His collaboration with CrabNebula Ltd. to comply with the Cyber Resilience Act promises to contribute to European economic resilience.

These collective narratives showcase technological projects and narrate how innovation, security, and collaboration can converge to shape a digital future responsive to our needs and values. Ultimately, the “NGI Impact Stories” invite us to envision and build an internet centred around people, ever-evolving and responsive to the challenges and opportunities of our time.

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