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Introducing New Internet Labs, the ‘Digital Rights Reviewer’ for App Mining

Guest post by Larry Salibra of New Internet Labs Limited

Satoshi developed Bitcoin in response to a corrupt financial system that is stealing our wealth. Likewise, the Blockstack developer toolkit and Stacks blockchain is a response to an internet of apps that holds our data hostage, stalks us, and silences our speech.

As we build this new internet of user-controlled apps, it is important that the users’ digital rights are respected and protected by default. At a minimum, this means apps should leverage identities owned by users and store user data in a location chosen and controlled by the user.

I’m excited that my new venture, New Internet Labs Limited, has the opportunity to join the Blockstack App Mining program as its ‘Digital Rights Reviewer’. Our role will be to evaluate apps submitted to the program based on how well they protect the fundamental digital rights of users, first by hand then by technology developed by New Internet Labs Limited.

The biggest point of feedback app founders have given to improve the App Mining program has been to reward applications that use Blockstack developer tools, ensuring user data remains in the hands of users. We’re honored to be tasked with making these considerations an official part of App Mining.

Initially, New Internet Labs will rate apps based on the degree to which they give users sovereign control of their data and identity by assessing their use of Blockstack Auth and Gaia storage.

Blockstack Auth

In our dry-run review, we tried to use each app and rated its use of Blockstack Auth. Is sign in with Blockstack ID:

State Score
Broken – sign with Blockstack is offered as an option but doesn’t work. -1
Not used at all 0
1 of many auth methods – secondary method 1
1 of many auth methods – equal importance 2
1 of many auth methods – primary method 3
The only auth method 4

Gaia Storage

In our dry-run review, we used each app and gave the app a score based on how it appears to use Gaia storage:

State Score
Broken – app crashes or can’t be used -1
Not used at all / unable to tell (mobile apps typically fall into this category) 0
Gaia + others – Data is stored to Gaia and also another service (possibly an indexer controlled by the app developer) 2
Only uses Gaia 4

In the interest of fairness to developers, we’re providing scores for March as a dry run so App Miners can see clearly how their scores would have been impacted before having them actually change the rank and payouts. Developers will then have the full month ahead to consider this impact and work on any changes or updates before the April cycle, when these new Digital Rights scores will be included in final rankings.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this scoring methodology. I’ll be relying on your feedback from and our learnings from this dry run to improve the process in the future.

Later in the year, other factors may be added into the Digital Rights rating relating to user tracking, data interoperability, reliance on trusted third parties or other factors. For a more complete discussion or to add your thoughts, please see this Github issue.

We look forward to the opportunity to help ensure that app developers that put in the hard work to help the Blockstack ecosystem and protect users’ digital rights are properly recognized and rewarded for their contributions.

Larry Salibra

Larry Salibra

Larry is on a mission to bring the new internet a new browser and recently founded New Internet Labs to do so. Previously, he co-founded Pay4Bugs, a crowdsourced security analysis and software testing platform, and is a founding member of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong. His work exposed private data leakage in Chinese Tinder clone Tantan, and how Apple censors apps in China.