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NLnet Labs' Jaap Akkerhuis inducted in Internet Hall of Fame 2017/09/19

 

neuropil

[neuropil]

Neuropil is an open-source de-centralized messaging layer that focuses on security and privacy by design. Persons, machines, and applications first have to identify their respective partners and/or content before real information can be sent. The discovery is handled internally and is based on so called "intent messages" that are secured by cryptographic primitives. This project aims to create distributed search engine capabilities based on neuropil, that enable the discovery and sharing of information with significantly higher levels of trust and privacy and with more control over the search content for data owners than today's standard. As of now large search engines have implemented "crawlers", that constantly visit webpages and categorize their content. The only way to somehow influence the information that is used by search engines is by using a file called „robots.txt“. Other algorithms are only known to the search engine provider. By using a highly standardized "intents" format that protects the real content of users, this model is reversed: data owners define the searchable public content. As an example we seek to implement the neuropil messaging layer with its extended search capabilities into a standard web server to become one actor and to handle and maintain the search index contents of participating data owners. By using the Neuropil messaging layer it is thus possible to build a distributed search engine database that is able to contain and reveal any kind of information in a distributed, concise and privacy preserving manner, without the need for any central search engine provider.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Search and discovery are some of the most important and essential use cases of the internet. When you are in school and need to give a presentation or write a paper, when you are looking for a job, trying to promote your business or finding relevant commercial or public services you need, most of the time you will turn to the internet and more importantly the search bar in your browser to find answers. Searching information and making sure your name, company or idea can be discovered is crucial for users, but they actually have little control over this. Search engines decide what results you see, how your website can be discovered and what information is logged about your searches. What filters and algorithms are are used remains opaque for users. They can only follow the rules laid out for them, instead of deciding on their own what, where and how to find the information they are looking for.

Neuropil is a project that wants to turn the tables on online search and discovery: instead of search solutions calling the shots, data owners decide what content is publicly searchable in the first place. They can do this through a new messaging layer that is private and secure by design. Data owners can send cryptographic and unique so-called intent messages that state what specific information can be found where. The access to the actual information or content is also controlled by data owners, for instance to provide either paid or public free content. Instead of a search engine accessing and logging everything on a website to make it searchable, neuropil lets a data owner decide on their own what can be found on their site and how users can access it. This is communicated through a messaging layer that fits easily into standard servers and can connect to users browsers, eliminating the need for search engines or third parties indexing search results entirely.

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 Discovery, 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. Applications are still open, you can apply today.

Or have a look at the other projects currently funded through NGI0 Discovery.

Calls

Send in your ideas.
Deadline December 1st, 2019.

 

 
Last update: 2019/05/15