Send in your ideas. Deadline June 1, 2024
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Theme fund: NGI0 PET
Start: 2020-04
End: 2022-10
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Services + Applications


Email server configuration lifecycle management

Lightmeter will make it easy to run email servers large and small by visualising, monitoring, and notifying users of problems and opportunities for improved performance and security. People will regain control of sensitive communications either directly by running their own mailservers, or indirectly via the increased diversity and trustworthiness of mail hosting services.

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.

Email to this day is among the most popular online communication services and is used by governments, companies and organizations to talk to clients and share files. Even though email was designed without privacy or security in mind. When you send an email, anyone that can gain access to your mail server or the mail server of the recipient can read your mail, from top to bottom. And copy it, for later usage. Or modify it. It is often compared to sending a post card, and of course in many cases there may be little harm in others reading what the weather is like in Athens. But what if you want to use email to send something confidential, something you do not want to share with others? Like a love letter, a political rant or an important contract? And what if you can't actually trust the mail man, for instance because the other party is using a free email service known to search through everything? Or what if you live in a country that has an unhealthy interest in bringing down certain political voices, or are part of a cultural minority that is at risk?

Users could try to host their own email server, or if they are not so technically inclined switch from one of the 'free' email providers (that are usually after your (meta)data and are known to read your messages) to hopefully more trustworthy independent parties that simply charge a monthly fee and in exchange, keep your email safe, private and abuse-free (no spam coming from your address, for example).

Most email servers rely on open source mail handling software that is extremely configurable but also quite old and not developed to solve the many privacy and security issues of email, one of which is whether your mail is delivered correctly. This is an important question to answer, for example if some important legal document was attached, or you sent someone your password (both of which you should not do, but happens everyday). This project helps mail providers make sure that email is not lost anywhere with open source tooling to monitor delivery. Users and independent hosts are given more control over how they can protect and control their email this way.

Run by Lightmeter

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.