New project “Privacy-enhancing digital infrastructures” (PriDI) launches

At the interface between law and business informatics, the PriDI project is researching how an open web index can be designed in conformity with fundamental rights and in such a way that it protects privacy. This includes how values such as privacy and data protection can be anchored in such a web index in the sense of “value-by-design”.

Together with the University of Kassel, one of our consortium partners – namely the Open Search Foundation – has won the PriDI project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

PriDI (which from German translates to “privacy-enhancing digital infrastructures”) will examine the necessary legal implications for the formation of an open European web index that complies with fundamental rights and protects privacy. The PriDI project team will accompany the OWS.EU-driven development of the European open search infrastructure over a period of 48 months and ensure that values such as privacy and data protection are anchored in the open web index in the sense of “value-by-design”.

Without search engines, navigation in the digital world is almost unthinkable.

The current web search business models are based on the intentional exploitation of user data for personalised advertising in extensive online advertising networks. User data is a huge income stream for online businesses, with personal data being the “digital currency” of the 21st century. But why are there no real alternatives to the search engine models of the big tech giants?

The answer is simple: search engines require a web index – a kind of table of contents of the World Wide Web. Currently, there are only four search index providers worldwide with comprehensive indexes. This is because market entry barriers such as the enormous costs of setting up and operating a web index make it difficult for new search engines to build their own index and assert themselves on the market. In other words, Search engine developers are currently dependent on the proprietary web indexes of the four major platforms, which dictate their access and usage conditions and act as gatekeepers in the search engine market. This makes web search anything but “open,” “privacy-protected,” or “free.”

The OWS.EU open web index, on the other hand, could provide a large number of search engines with a basis for their services. The open web index will also be used by science, research and companies for innovations in the field of artificial intelligence.

Once launched, the open web index will promote diversity and freedom of choice in the area of internet search as well as freedom of information and will be an important step towards digital sovereignty. In addition, opening up the search engine market will strengthen the informational self-determination of citizens.

PriDI will support OWS.EU with pioneering legal design patterns

The PriDI project team will therefore support the development of the open web index with legal and business IT expertise. The aim is to align the resulting search infrastructure with the best possible implementation of fundamental rights and applicable data protection law. With a focus on a particularly privacy-friendly design, the project team will examine legal requirements, translate them into specific catalogues of requirements and have them evaluated by stakeholder groups.

The project website on the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (in German):

Open Calls #2 and #3 are closed

The application deadline for Call #2 and Call #3 is closed.

The 8.5 Mio Euro EU project on Open Web Search had launched new third-party calls, inviting researchers, innovators and computing centres to join the quest for a new Internet Search in Europe. More information on the calls: Call #2 and Call #3.

“Funding of up to 150,000 euros“ | Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

The German research outlet idw (Informationsdienst Wissenschaft) is the go-to news platform for staying up to date on cutting-edge science updates, publications, projects and topics. The members-centric platform caters to more than 43,000 subscribers. 

With consortium partner “University of Passau” being an active member, idw shared about the recent OWS.EU Third-Party Open Calls 2 and 3.

The project, part of Horizon Europe, is currently calling on third parties to contribute innovations and infrastructure to help further develop the Open Web Index.

Proceedings #ossym23 – 5th international Symposium on Open Search

The proceedings of the 5th International Open Search Symposium #ossym23 have been published Vol. 5 (2023): Proceedings 5th International Open Search Symposium #ossym2023, 4–6 October 2023, CERN, Geneva, Switzerland Volume five of the Proceedings of the International Open Search Symposium 2023 summarises peer-reviewed articles and research results selected and presented at the Open Search Symposium 2023. […]

8.5 Mio Euro EU project on Open Web Search launches new third-party calls – An invitation to researchers, innovators and computing centres to join the quest for a new Internet Search in Europe | Media Release

9 February 2024 | OpenWebSearch.EU – a consortium of 14 research partners – is once again calling for third-party project proposals to help building an open and independent Web Index (OWI) based on European values. Researchers, innovators and data centres are invited to submit their ideas until 4th April . Successful candidates can request funding between 50,000 and 150,000 EUR.

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New Calls for Third-party Proposals and new Funding Round to be Launched in February 2024 to launch open calls #2 and #3 soon, offering funding and onboarding to third-parties

After Call #1 in March 2023 and the resulting successful onboarding of six third-party partners in November 2023, the OpenWebSearch.EU will call for proposals again in February: Calls #2 and #3 will invite researchers, innovators and data centres to submit their applications to participate in the Open Web Search mission and receive funding for their project ideas. The calls will launch in February, applications will be accepted until April 2024. Call #2:
Applications of an Open Web Index

Call #2 will particularly ask for proposals for applications of the Open Web Index. The Open project will provide access to pre-processed and indexed data in the terabyte range. Also it will deliver continuous, daily updates until the end of the project. Successful applicants should use and exploit the data provided in innovative applications scenarios or research topics.

Under this call, applicants will be able to apply for funding of between EUR 50,000.00 and EUR 100,000.00 for a funding period of up to 12 months. Call #3:
Onboarding of Data Centres

Call #3 will address computing and data centers to join the network of infrastructure organisations and hosting parts of the OWSAI infrastructure. The consortium aims to on-board data centers as a proof-of-concept for the developed technology and engage in discussions on creating a sustainable future infrastructure. Called will be universities, public infrastructure providers, data centres, companies (e.g., cloud providers) or research teams with a well established infrastructure. Applicants should be capable of providing a significant extension to the current data and compute infrastructure, and engaging in relevant infrastructure-oriented R&D activities.

Under call#3, applicants can request funding between 100.000,00 and 150.000,00 EUR for a funding period of up to 12 months. Major cost categories can include infrastructure costs, other costs and human resources.


More information on the calls and the call application packages will be launched in February 2024 on the third-party call landingpage.

The open calls are part of the community programme, aiming to integrating new third-party project teams into the landscape and future activities for sustainable Research and Development. Therefore, the candidate third-party projects should probe the closely related topics addressed in the project and should aim at widening and enriching the existing R&D activities as well as suggesting new ones which are complementary to the project goals and aims. Ideally, the project results should be integrated with the infrastructure.

NGI Forum 2023 Brussels – Recap and Recordings

In November, the #NGIForum23 took place in Brussels. With a focus on Digital Commons, the gathering brought together thought-leaders, policy makers, researchers and innovators in an inspiring event to discuss an open, more secure and citizen-centred internet of the future.

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Common Goals with Common Crawl

OWS.EU constantly thrives to move forward with more transparent, self-determined web search. With the aim to build a Europe-based Open Web Index, choosing trustworthy, powerful crawling partners is key. Common Crawl is one such dedicated and renowned partner. It is therefore an honor to be featured on their website in the official partners section.

Common Crawl is not only a major resource for web-innovations, but also an inspiring partner. We are particularly looking forward to co-operating on license-aware crawling and to integrate their crawls into our open web index,“ says Michael Granitzer, OWS.EU’s principal investigator.

The Common Crawl Foundation is an NGO that crawls the web and freely provides its archives and datasets to the public. Its mission: to democratize Open Web Search, “enabling free access to web crawl data encourages collaboration and interdisciplinary research, as organizations, academia, and non-profits can work together to address complex challenges.” The non-profit has significantly expanded its core team throughout the last two years and is continually growing.

We are proud to be an early partner, sharing a similar vision.

Six new partners to enrich OpenWebSearch.EU project | Media Release

Six third-party partners have joined the EU funded project OpenWebSearch.EU, introducing new technical, legal and economic research topics in support of a European Open Web Index.

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“Meet the StormCrawler users: Q&A with the project” | Digital Pebbles

Interview on StormCrawler blog for an interview with Michael Dinzinger and Saber Zerhoudi, both researchers in the project.

Learn about their research at the Uni Passau, about resource-efficient crawling and how they build crawling pipelines for an open web index – and why the heterogeneous infrastructure of the project is a major challenge in their work.

Read the interview here: