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Theme fund: NGI0 PET
Start: 2019-06
End: 2019-06
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Data and AI

EteSync - iOS application

Encrypted synchronisation for calendars, addressbook, etc

EteSync is an open source, end-to-end encrypted, and privacy respecting sync solution for contacts, calendars and tasks with more data types planned for the future. It's currently supported on Android, the desktop (using a DAV adapter layer) where it seamlessly integrates with existing apps, and on the web for easy access from everywhere.

Many people are well aware of the importance of end-to-end encryption. This is evident by the increasing popularity of end-to-end encrypted messaging applications. However, in today's cloud-based world, there is much more (as important!) information that is just left exposed and unencrypted, without people even realising. Calendar events, tasks, personal notes and location data ("find my phone") are a few such examples. This is why the overarching goal of EteSync is to enable users to end-to-end encrypt all of their data.

The purpose of this project is to create an EteSync iOS client which will seamlessly integrate with rest of the system and let the many currently uncatered for iOS users securely sync their data.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

People and organisations use both free and paid online services to manage their private address books, calendars and tasks. These services allow them to back up their data and share the same information across different devices - so they can add an appointment or new contact while they are on the mobile phone at the train station, or on the couch at home, and it magically emerges on their desktop calendar. Other tools allow our loved ones to know where we are at any given moment in time. Given how personal and confidential such information is, use of these convenient services can make users vulnerable to all kinds of abuse.

That risk is not necessary. Service providers can perform the core services (sharing and backup) just as well without any knowledge about user data. Given how normal encryption has become elsewhere on the internet, for instance in instant messaging, it is high time that we start applying it to the information we store about the people we meet, the places we go and the things we do. The overarching goal of the open source EteSync project is to enable users to end-to-end encrypt all of their information, and the expected outcome of this project is to make EteSync available for users on the iOS platform (an often requested feature) - thus making it possible for many more users to switch off the unprotected storage and regain their privacy. Similar to the existing version for other platforms, the new application will support integrated sync for contacts, calendars and tasks, including seamless integration with the native OS as if it was a normal DAV account. This allows users to safely store calendar events, tasks, personal notes and location data ("find my phone") without having to be a computer science wizard.

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo NGI Zero: letterlogo shaped like a tag

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.