The size of the offer dwarfs the 350,000 seat offer won by Slack this year to be the go-to messaging service for IBM and is a huge increase for Aspect, which was established in 2017 and was officially understood as New Vector.
The win points to the growing issue about privacy in interactions around the world amidst a heated argument about the use of Huawei innovation in the UK, the security of social app TikTok and issues about how encrypted messaging services actually are.
Matthew Hodgson, the CEO of Element, informed Sorted that it was an indication that Europe was starting to embrace its own privacy-friendly messenger service that reduced its dependence on Silicon Valley.
Component offers an ultra-secure messaging system– utilized by the French and German military already– which is constructed on a decentralised interactions standard called Matrix
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Some choose this because other end-to-end encrypted messaging services, for example WhatsApp, may be highly secure but users are ultimately dependent on 3rd parties– e.g WhatsApp owner Facebook– to keep it protect.
With Element, conversations are hosted and owned totally by the participating servers, rather than being kept centrally someplace in Silicon Valley, which is especially attractive to European governments and armies concerned about digital sovereignty
The deal announced on Wednesday will see the German states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg deploy a Matrix-based option for 500,000 users throughout public offices and education as part of its wider adoption of open source cloud strategy Job Phoenix being performed by IT service provider Dataport.
The release is targeted at improving the region’s digital sovereignty and includes secondary schools and more education facilities in time for the September term. The seats will be comprised of a mix of students, personnel and public administration.
Last year Component, which likewise has a Slack competing messaging service called Riot which operates on Matrix, raised an $8.5 m Series A funding round with involvement from Idea Capital, Dawn Capital and European seed fund Firstminute Capital. Previously this year Automattic, the business behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce and Tumblr made a $4.6 m strategic investment in the company.
Sifted overtaken Matthew Hodgson, the CEO and CTO of Aspect to ask him what the German agreement indicates for the company.
How essential will this deal be for Element and your wider ambitions? What will it open?
This is a vital offer for Component; between the French state release, German Bundeswehr and now the Public Schools of Germany we are seeing Matrix spreading out organically throughout Europe.
The Federal Commissioner for Data Defense and Flexibility of Information in Germany, Ulrich Kelber, explained earlier in the year that “you could even establish a privacy-friendly messenger service in cooperation with France, which in the medium term might represent a real option to existing products on the market as a pan-European solution”, and the German releases are proof of this vision becoming a reality.
On The Other Hand, we have several other public sector deployments in the pipeline with various governments and expect to see Matrix end up being the standard secure interaction backbone for the general public sector in the months to come.
Do you believe that the geopolitical environment– Huawei, TikTok– assisted you win this offer? If so, how?
Digital sovereignty has ended up being a genuinely hot button topic over the last few months, both thanks to the cybersecurity risks of applications run by other nation states, and desire for nations to naturally have autonomy over their own infrastructure.
Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic has required organisations into remote working who simply can not depend on normal Silicon Valley centralised services– and this has actually led to a substantial surge of interest in self-sovereign communication facilities, for which Element and Matrix are the standard-bearers.
We see a various vibrant to the Cold War: instead, we see the traditional centralised apps (Slack, Teams, Discord, etc) being displaced by a grass-roots open-source movement, much as Linux displaced business operating systems on the Web and totally shifted the balance of power back to the larger community.
The unfavorable effects of data centralisation have actually ended up being exceptionally clear in recent years thanks to Cambridge Analytica, unilateral algorithmic filtering and surveillance capitalism– and the pendulum is finally swinging the other way again, back towards an internet which is more open, decentralised, safe and dynamic.
We anticipate to see:
- Decentralised communication growing as a grass-roots movement that supplies a major difficulty to the centralised interaction silos– much as the Web exceeded the old silos of AOL, Compuserve etc.
- End-to-end file encryption by default everywhere. Slack and Teams have actually up until now stated E2EE difficult for their platforms, whereas WhatsApp and Signal have it on by default. Information security will become a requirement.
- Peer-to-peer interaction leaving the labs. We turned on the P2P Matrix network in June and it’s extremely interesting to see Matrix working in environments without web, or servers, where discussions exist purely on the handsets and web browsers of the participating users.
- Decentralised reputation systems. With more people linked than ever previously over safe and secure end-to-end encrypted interaction channels, the risk of abuse grows. We need to provide the tools to reduce abuse and let users filter out harmful material on their own terms– effectively putting them in charge of their own filtering algorithms, instead of being at the mercy of Facebook, Twitter and pals.