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NLnet funds development of remote data protocol for web applications

[Press release Friday, September 9th 2011; Nederlands]
Amsterdam/Berlin, Friday September 9th 2011

'Unhosted protocol separates software and remote data'.

NLnet foundation announces today that it will financially support the Unhosted project with a grant for a period of one year. Unhosted is a groundbreaking community effort to provide a safe way for users to work with web applications, by allowing the separation of software made available through the internet from their personal and business data. Unhosted makes it possible to use software served from the premises of a vendor while allowing the data to remain elsewhere - even inside the private domain of a person or organisation. Because the application and the data can meet in the browser, there is no reason to restrict data to where the software originates.

"We think Unhosted provides a novel paradigm for internet applications,", says Michiel Leenaars, director of Strategy at NLnet foundation, "Just like regular software doesn't impose on you where data lives, software consumed as a service should allow you to keep data where you want it too. It actually makes a lot of sense."

"Computers have a hard disk inside them with all your data under your control. But more and more applications are hosted online, inviting us to put our data onto their servers. Apart from our data being locked inside a place we don't have control over, many websites sell our data to third parties. This is a huge emergency in terms of consumer rights.", says Unhosted project lead Michiel de Jong. "As software moves to the cloud, the PC is replaced by shiny devices like the iPad and Chromebook. The iPad synchronizes with the Apple cloud, and the Chromebook synchronizes with the Google cloud. But unhosted web apps let the user decide which cloud provider they prefer. Consumers can already choose between multiple providers of commodities like electricity, telephony, and internet connection. Our protocol does the same for your remote storage. "

Unhosted was started exactly one year ago on September 9th 2010 by a group of volunteers led by Michiel de Jong, a Dutch software developer based in Berlin. The project provides both a implementation agnostic protocol - building on existing standards such as WebDAV, OAuth and Webfinger - and an SDK that can be used by applications for easy integration. In addition to the grant from NLnet foundation, Unhosted already raised 14.000 through crowdsourced funding.

Acceptance of cloud applications often hinges on the trust that people have in their vendors, and Unhosted increases the options for people to use remote applications without fear of their data being used for unintended purposes. "Unhosted takes the general idea of the cloud one step further by separating functionality, trust and storage to different places in the cloud," says Leenaars. "It points us to the challenging idea that maybe the best technology provider should be just that, and not the keeper of our private and commercial secrets."

To work on the topic in an open and vendor-neutral way, a Community Group was formed this week at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

About NLnet Foundation

NLnet Foundation is a widely respected private charity fund supporting developments of networking technology worldwide, and has over the years actively contributed to (internet) standards, open source projects and subsidiary or enabling activities such as the development of GPLv3. NLnet Foundation's means came initially from interest on a substantial own capital formed in 1997 by the sale of the first Dutch Internet Service Provider. Its private capital ensures an absolute independent position. The articles of association for the NLnet Foundation state: "to promote the exchange of electronic information and all that is related or beneficial to that purpose". At any moment, dozens of projects are being supported worldwide.

About the Unhosted project

Unhosted is a project that is intended to help applications work with remote data, so that users can choose where their important data is hosted. Unhosted returns cloud services to the original idea of a loosely coupled, distributed Web. Unhosted provides both an SDK and a cross-origin data storage protocol, separating data servers from webservers.