Send in your ideas. Deadline June 1, 2024
Theme fund: NGI0 PET
Start: 2019-06
End: 2022-10
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Network infrastructure


Network configuration with better privacy

When your computer enters a new network as a guest, it will need to receive information to be able to send and receive packets. The internet standard responsible for this is called Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). Traditional DHCP and DHCPv6 can potentially leak information which can be abused to uniquely identify a certain device - and thus track a user. dhcpcanon is a DHCP client implementation that implements the technical standard RFC7844, DHCP Anonymity Profiles. The new standard provides guidelines for minimizing information disclosure via DHCP. This project will produce DHCP clients implementing the Anonymity Profiles for restricted devices as microcontrollers and easy integration with network management tools.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Privacy is a matter of control. When you want to protect your privacy, it does not mean you never tell anyone anything, it means you want to be in control of who you share your personal information with. On the internet a lot of control is taken away from you. The technology that lets you connect to networks all around the world and find information anywhere it is stored is built around identification, both of its users and the virtual places they visit. Unfortunately, many crucial networking standards and protocols were not designed with user privacy in mind, let alone giving them any sense of control over who can see what they do online. This vacuum has been filled with all sorts of tracking and tracing schemes that can make detailed profiles of people, which can then be (mis)used for commercial or even criminal gain.

One of the protocols that is both a crucial part of how the internet works and also a potential privacy hazard is DHCP, or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. This protocol, like the name states, dynamically distributes important identifiers like internet procotol addresses (IP addresses) when users connect to a particular network. These identifiers can be leaked and then used to identify and track the device of a specific user. dhcpcanon gives back users some control over their online privacy by minimizing any personal information that can be disclosed through DHCP. The project helps to implement an existing and proven technical standard on DHCP privacy protection into current networks. This way the internet community can take practical steps to make our online life more private and move forward to a more privacy-friendly technology.

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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.

This project is archived. Due to circumstances, the project as planned did not take place. This page is left as a placeholder, for transparency reasons and to perhaps inspire others to take up this work.