EU-backed Internet decentralisation group launches Europe-wide pilot

Privacy awareness and democratic participation are at the centre of a new European Commission-approved initiative that is aiming to decentralise the Internet across the continent.

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D-CENT [Decentralised Citizens Engagement Technologies] is backed by the European Commission and wants to use a distributed social networking platform that encourages cooperation on a large scale to help solve social problems and allow citizens full participation in the democratic process.

“D-CENT will valorise the collective knowledge of citizens, allowing them to re-imagine and re-design new democratic institutions. After Snowden's revelations, digital rights are perceived as key issue that D-CENT is going to address, ensuring that people are in full control of their data, maintaining privacy and trust in technology they use. With D-CENT we want to support new citizen movements and build technologies designed for the common good,” said Francesca Bria, coordinator of D-CENT at Nesta.

The main focus of the project is to look at possible implementations of various types of liquid democracy including collective deliberation, decision-making, and the pros and cons of proxy voting.

Further to this, it will look at how to link democratic decision making to economic empowerment, experimenting how communities could manage common goods and facilitate online exchanges with Bitcoin-style crypto currencies.

D-CENT uses free open source software and open data, with the code released under an open source license and able to be reused across Europe to let developers use the code and create API-based apps on top of it.

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Working with citizen movements like M15 in Spain, Open Ministry in Finland and Citizen Foundation in Iceland, the tools will be tested in large-scale pilots in the three countries later this year and rolled out further if successful.