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Project Wormhole (NL) and Samizdat (USA) are the latest two recipients of a grant from the Real-Time Communication fund. The RTC fund is a crowdsourcing effort aimed at creating future proof solutions for the way people communicate with each other without a single point of control. The fund is managed by the Netherlands based internet charity NLnet foundation, that has been funding projects since 1997. The two projects were selected out of 26 open source projects submitted from around the world to an open call in October.

"Both projects are conceptually ground-breaking", says Michiel Leenaars, director of strategy at NLnet foundation. "Project Wormhole for enabling a convergence of mainstream real-time communication that just works and Samizdat for enabling somehow the exact opposite - a personal communication channel for people under difficult circumstances."

Project Wormhole is a new technology approach to bridge the two major standards-based real-time communication technologies, while Samizdat provides a novel approach to individuals communicating privately in hostile environments such as under repressive regimes. Part of the funding from project Wormhole is provided from another fund - the DNSSEC fund - to enable the delivered software to be DNSSEC-aware.

NLnet foundation organises an open call six times a year, and has contributed to key developments around internet standardisation, security, semantic technology, open document formats and privacy. The next deadline is February 1st 2012. Donations to the fund for enabling future projects are welcomed.

About Project Wormhole - a Jingle XMPP/SIP SIMPLE gateway

There are two leading internet technologies emerging as the future of real-time communication: SIP and XMPP. This project and its outcome will provide the possibility for users of both universes to use either protocol to interoperate with each other for audio, instant messaging and presence.

If the software is installed on the desktop next to an existing application it can encapsulate or tunnel conversations from one protocol to the other - serving as a wormhole between the two universes. It should work transparently with little or no configuration. It will allow users to share contacts and establish chat and audio sessions without having to bother of the protocol used to address buddies in user@domain format.

If the software is used on a server, one should simply point the appropriate DNS record of a domain to the server, and any session request made with either SIP or XMPP protocol will be bridged to the other side.

About Samizdat

The goal of Samizdat is "to bring public key cryptography to the masses." Samizdat aims "to create a cryptographic system which can be used without any preliminary explanation of cryptography to end-users, and by doing so, push adoption of decentralized public key cryptography to a critical mass. We hope to realize the full social potential of cryptographic web-of-trust systems: a technological revolution of decentralization."

Samizdat takes the form of a Debian-based GNU/Linux LiveCD providing ready-to-use cryptographic communications channels: email, chat, voice, filesharing, etc., requiring no initial configuration. These LiveCDs self-replicate (producing new CDs), and this self-replication process functions as a fully-automated system for public key distribution, creating a zero-configuration ("just works") encrypted virtual private network supporting IPv6.

Unlike traditional software distributions, Samizdat does not rely on any trusted third party for its own distribution. Instead, it is based on the biological principle of 'rhizomal growth' -- as exemplified by the Pando tree colony.

Samizdat LiveCDs are self-replicating, but instead of the new CD being a clone, separate from and identical to its creator, each Samizdat LiveCD is unique, and serves as a "digital identity", much the way a driver's license does. (This is implemented as a GnuPG identity). Any Samizdat LiveCD can be used to expand the VPN to as many nodes as desired through the creation of new CDs.

The created VPN should serve not merely as a secure communications channel, but as a platform for a new type of peer-to-peer application -- based on cryptographic authentication through a GnuPG web-of-trust. The authors of Samizdat believe that this will enable vast new possibilities.

  • Project lead: Andrew Cady (USA)
  • Website: Samizdat