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Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs donates 0.5 million to "Internet Hardening Fund"

Collaborative investment in security of shared infrastructure of the internet

Dit bericht in het Nederlands

Amsterdam/The Hague, December 16th, 2016 — The Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs is contributing half a million euro to the "Internet Hardening Fund", a new fund that invests in strenghtening the underlying infrastructure of the global internet. The fund aims to give a direct impulse to the technical and operational basis of a safer and more secure internet, and to contribute to improving the availability of high-end encryption mechanisms. The fund is operated by NLnet Foundation, the public benefit organisation set up by the Dutch pioneers that helped introduce the internet in Europe in the eighties.

The main focus of the new Internet Hardening Fund is twofold: on the one hand supporting high end open source encryption software used in the infrastructural layer, and on the other hand development and strengthening of the underlying internet and web standards in the area of encryption. The fund operates internationally. A new competitive call for proposals is launched every two months. Projects or individuals that request a grant will also automatically enter the competitive open call from NLnet, which additionally increases their chance of funding. Through the fund independent researchers and developers can requests grants in support of their efforts to improve and expand encryption and other means of securing internet communication.

Hardening the internet means we are making it more robust against all kinds of abuse, says Marc Gauw, general director of NLnet foundation, Cryptography carries the huge responsibility of protecting internet traffic from being tampered with, and there is a lot of catching up to do. The health of the internet is determined to a large extent by its weakest parts. As we've seen demonstrated with the recent large scale attacks, there can be no safe zone on the internet as long as there are weaknesses that can be exploited at a very large scale. With the Internet Hardening Fund we can use the collective power of the technical community and the instrument of open source to help raise the level of security for everyone.

The Netherlands government has recently been increasing its support for open standards and open source, and has maintained a strong and well-informed position on encryption. In december 2015, the Netherlands House of Representatives made a clear statement in support of that position when it unanimously accepted a motion by D66 MP Kees Verhoeven. This motion urged the cabinet to support the open source communities that are responsible for maintaining critical parts of the internet infrastructure, stating that encryption is a necessary prerequisite for the freedom and safety of people, and important to protect the right to freedom of expression and to protect trade secrets. I think we all agree that a strong, secure and open internet is vital for both society and the global economy says Marc Gauw, The Internet Hardening Fund is set up to harness the talent of developers and technical community to continue to come up with solutions in a transparent, cost-effective and bottom-up way. We hope many other stakeholders - private and public alike - will see the huge benefits of this approach and will follow the lead of the Netherlands government.

Not to be published

More information about the "Internet Hardening Fund" can be found on its homepage:

About NLnet Foundation

NLnet Foundation

NLnet foundation is an independent organisation whose means come from donations and legacies. The history of NLnet goes back to 1982 when a group of Europeans led by former NLnet director and member of the Internet Hall of Fame Teus Hagen announced the European Unix Network (EUnet) which became the first public wide area network in Europe and the place where internet was introduced to Europe. NLnet also pioneered the worlds first dial-in and ISDN infrastructure with full country coverage. In 1997 all commercial activities were sold to UUnet (now Verizon) and since that time NLnet has focussed on supporting the open internet, and the privacy and security of internet users.

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". NLnet's core business is to support independent organizations and people that contribute to an open information society and to a safe, secure and open internet.

A number of times a year NLnet organises a worldwide open call for projects to be supported. The long list of NLnet-supported projects includes NLnet Labs, Tor Hidden Services, Unhosted, Qubes, NOMA, Lantern project, FLOSS Manuals, KORUZA, RFID Guardian, WebODF, Jitsi, ARPA2, NoScript, CeroWRT and GNUnet.

Developers and researchers are invited to apply for grants.

For further information contact NLnet