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Theme fund: NGI0 PET
Start: 2020-02
End: 2020-02
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CryptPad: Project Dialogue

Secure surveys and polls for Cryptpad

Cryptpad is a real-time collaboration environment that encrypts everything clientside. The project will incorporate structured group interaction other than collaborative editing (e.g. gathering input through forms, polls) is a useful addition to this. This will replacing the current basic implementation of polls (like Doodle), and introduce surveys (like Google Forms). Authors will have exclusive control over the content and format of the polls and surveys, such as which questions are asked and the acceptable format of their answers. They'll also have control over the cryptographic keys which decrypt the submitted results, granting authors control over publishing. In addition, the project will develop an extension of its current notifications system to allow instance administrators to publish translatable messages visible to all their users. We'll use this broadcast system to distribute language-specific surveys and recruit willing users into a series of usability studies which will guide a second round of development for these applications.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Collaboratively writing a document together in real-time with others is still a bit magic. Someone else, perhaps on the other side of the planet, is typing something. And within a fraction of a second, the text magically appears on your screen. If you insert some text in the text just typed, this travels to all people you are in the session with. This amazing technology is the ideal companion for say an online meeting - everyone can contribute, and correct any flawed minutes without much effort.

For this kind of collaboration in real-time, there is a limited set of options in the market you can use. Most available services in the market like Google Docs, Microsoft Office or LibreOffice Online share one very undesirable characteristic: you need to fully trust the company running the service you use. Whomever has access to the servers used to connect everyone together, can read everything you have written - and deleted. That means that if you need to work on something confidential like an important contract, you may want to reconsider using the service. If you by accident cut and paste a password in the wrong window, you probably need to change it.

Especially if you write about sensitive topics like corruption, money laundering or state surveillance this open backend you cannot control is a really significant problem. If the server is located in another jurisdiction, you probably want to watch carefully what you write - you may inadvertently violate some laws you are literally unaware of.

Cryptpad is different: it is free and open source software you can run anywhere you want yourself. This means you can choose someone you really trust, rather than being forced to trust. But even better, CryptPad will make everything you do undecipherable to the outside world before anything is sent to the service to be distributed among all the participants. From a user perspective it works as any other application. That means CryptPad puts you square back in control.

In this project, Cryptpad will introduce new, useful applications for polls and surveys that are equally secure, private and user-friendly. When you draw up a poll and survey, you have exclusive control over the content, format and submitted results, ensuring the privacy of everyone involved.

Run by XWiki SAS

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This project was funded through the NGI0 PET 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 825310.