Send in your ideas. Deadline June 1, 2024
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Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2019-04
End: 2022-10


Secure P2P real-time communications with RELOAD

REsource LOcation And Discovery specification (RELOAD) is a standard produced by the IETF standard to (as the name indicates) describe how people can search within a local network to discover other people and devices they can then exchange video and voice calls with, send messages etc. Why make every discovery depend on the availability of a global DNS system, if you are actually near each other...

Blink is a mature open source real-time communication application that can be used on different operating systems, based on the IETF SIP standard. It offers audio, video, instant messaging and desktop sharing. Blink RELOAD aims to implement RELOAD (RFC 7904) , which describes a peer-to-peer network that allows participants to discover each other and to communicate using the IETF SIP protocol. This offers an alternative discovery mechanism, one that does not rely on server infrastructure, in order to allow participants to connect with each other and communicate. In addition, the RELOAD specification describes means by which participants can store, publish and share information, in a way that is secure and fully under the control of the user, without a third party controlling the sharing process or the information being shared.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

One of the things people enjoy the most about the internet, is that it enables them to talk to others remotely almost without limit. Internet allows anyone to keep closely connected with friends and family, and help their kids solve a math problem while they are at work. People collaborate with their colleagues from the couch of their living room, the cafe where they enjoy lunch or on their cell phone on the bus to the gym. Businesses can easily service their customers where this is most convenient to them, without having to travel themselves. This is so convenient, that some businesses have already moved entirely online. Internet communication has become the nerve center of whole neighbourhoods, where people watch over the possessions of their neighbours while these are away for work or leisure.

Connecting and communicating online begins with search and discovery and this is a crucial starting point that users should be able to trust. Ask yourself this: how do you find the person you want to talk with and how can you be sure they are who they say they are? And who logs what names and addresses you are looking for and how long your call was, where you connected from and with whom? Can you still be reached in any other way when your account is removed? Not all service providers give you clear answers to these very relevant questions. And probably the right answers are even more important in less democratic societies where this type of information is critical to bring down opposition and stifle human rights.

With Blink users do not have to rely on proprietary services and can instead use proven internet standards to setup a call, have a video chat, send instant messages or share their screens. Communication is encrypted from user to user to avoid anyone listening in. And to make searching and discovering contacts even more independent from third parties and infrastructure, this project will implement a powerful set of new internet standards. These establish an abstract storage and messaging service between a set of end users which can be discovered locally. These new allow Blink users to directly find, connect and communicate to each other in a peer-to-peer network. The network can be made up entirely of users, without relying on servers that may not be familiar or trustworthy. Search and discovery becomes more straightforward, transparent and reliable.

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This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.