The Basics

What is the Respect Network?

The Respect Network is the first global web-of-trust network where all data belongs to the users, all communications are protected by end-to-end encryption, and all members agree to respect each other’s privacy through a mutual trust framework. The result is a trusted platform for new apps and services that enable people and businesses to share private messages and data like medical records, financial records, and family records with the same ease of use but much greater security and privacy than social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google.


The Respect Network as the next evolution in Internet communications. As shown in Figure 1, the Internet was first made approachable when personal computers became widely available. At that point, consumers could access information previously available only in enterprise or institutional settings. Next, the smartphone made data retrieval mobile. No longer did you have to be in a fixed location in order to get access to information, it was available worldwide. The next wave of innovation began with the onset of social networks. Social networks brought in the concept, dubbed web 2.0, where everyone became a publisher and enjoyed participatory relationship with everyone else on the Web. Finally, we’re now at the point where the next evolution, dubbed the Semantic Web or Web 3.0, is beginning. In Web 3.0, every endpoint on the Internet develops semantic data relationships with its peers in a web of trust network. In this way, all of the processing power and information within the Internet today can be leveraged to provide value and convenience like never before.

We are becoming more reliant on the Internet, not less. And with the movement towards the Internet of Things, smart home technology (Nest, Qualcomm, etc.), and quantified-self devices (FitBit, Apple Watch, etc.), our most intimate lives will be revealed in brutal detail. For this emerging technology to provide its ultimate value, we need a web where safety, privacy, and trust are at its core. This web, a web of trust, is the Respect Network.

Why should I personally join the Respect Network?

By joining the Respect Network, you are taking the first step in gaining some control over the vast amount of data that represents you (we call it your digital self) across the web. If you:

  • Would like to forget those things you said or showed on social media, or
  • Worry about what your children are being exposed to on the web, or
  • Are tired of getting notices that your information has been compromised, or
  • Are aggravated by those useless annoying ads that follow you around cyberspace,

Then you should join the Respect Network, a web-of-trust network where your data belongs to you and all of the members of the network respect that fact. When you join the Respect Network,

  • Your data is available to you at any time in any app on any device, and
  • You own a virtual personal computer in the cloud capable of being a personal assistant that manages your data, runs apps, and acts on your behalf, and
  • You own an identity and personal data protector that manages communications with other personal and business clouds according to your rules.

While information about you still sits in the web beyond the Respect Network, the more you use the Respect Network the more of your digital self moves under your control. Eventually what is left in the old web becomes longer important.

Why would I want my business in the Respect Network?

The first reason is compliance, i.e., if your business is in healthcare, finance, or higher education, it must have a compliant solution for secure messaging and data exchange. On these criteria alone, the Respect Network offers a major advantage: it is the only interoperable open standard solution to secure messaging and data exchange on the market. It will never lock your business into an application with proprietary databases, encryption, or interchange protocols.

Why else should my business join?

Because it’s just plain good for business.

The emergence of private clouds and smart private channels represents an evolutionary step in communications as fundamental to businesses as the emergence of email, websites, and mobile apps. Each was an easier, faster, and more intelligent way to communicate and manage relationships with customers.

Private clouds and private channels are the next step in this progression because they will enable businesses to:

  • End data decay. Businesses lose up to 12% of their revenue opportunity from out-of-date and incomplete CRM databases. For example, even after 20 years, there is still no standard way for a simple change-of-address to flow securely and privately to all relevant contacts (personal and business). Currently, vendors employ “intake specialists” to repeatedly ask the customer to update this information. Solving this problem alone can save businesses hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
  • Prevent data errors. Private channel feeds of current customer data reduce the risk of inaccurate reports that can wreck credit decisions, impair employment efforts and cause other business-altering harms.
  • Help prevent data breaches.  When accurate customer data can be retrieved as needed via an encrypted private connection, exposure to data theft will be reduced dramatically, saving businesses brand and financial loss. For example, the breach Target suffered during the height of the 2013 holiday season resulted in an estimated $160 million in remediation charges, a 16% drop in company market value, and the CIO and CEO losing their jobs.
  • Increase customer retention. A five percent increase in customer retention represents a 75% increase in total customer value. By investing in lasting private channel relationships built on trust, a company can build customer loyalty and incent repeat purchases through personal conversations and offers that represent real value to the customer.
  • Convert qualified buyers. The surveillance economy is fueled by gathering information from all sources to infer a customer’s buying intentions. If companies could know their customers actual intentions via the Respect Affinity Network rather than inferring them from data harvesting, they could be much more effective in “closing the deal.”
What is a personal cloud?

A personal cloud is a private cloud owned and controlled by an individual. It has a Respect Network personal cloud address (which starts with an = sign). It serves as a safe place to store member-owned data and send/receive private messages. As the cloud owner, you can access it from any device and use it to share messages and data across all of your devices, regardless of brand, operating system, telecom carrier, etc.

On the Respect Network, the data you store in your personal cloud belongs entirely to you and remains completely under your control. Only you decide who to share it with, whether a photo of your child or a copy of your tax return.

The same applies to the connections you make with other Respect Network members—both personal clouds and business clouds. All these connections belong entirely to you, last for life (or as long as you want them), and can be shared with any app to which you give permission.

What is a business cloud?

A business cloud is a private cloud owned and controlled by a business (i.e., any legal entity other than an individual). It functions the same way as a personal cloud except:

  1. It has a Respect Network business cloud address (which starts with a + sign).
  2. It must have one or more personal cloud owners designated as administrators.
  3. It is subject to the Business Member provisions of the Respect Trust Framework and Respect Business Framework.
What is a cloud name?

A cloud name is a unique communications address for each person and business on the Respect Network. It is similar to a domain name on the internet, such as example.com . However, a personal cloud name starts with an = symbol and a business cloud name starts with a + symbol. For example: =forrest.gump for a personal cloud +wiggly.motors for a business cloud For an individual, your personal cloud name is always yours – it isn’t tied to your ISP, the Respect Network, or your employer. It’s your private digital address for life.

What characters can I use in a cloud name?

Personal cloud names must start with an = sign and business cloud names with a + sign. After that, they may contain up to 64 characters in any supported character set, plus dots or dashes. They may not start or end with a dot or a dash nor contain consecutive dots or dashes. The supported character sets include Latin (which covers many European languages such as English, German, Swedish and Spanish), Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Below are some examples.

  • =example
  • =example.name
  • =example-name
  • =example.q.name
  • =example.dot.and-dash-name
  • =名字.例子
What can I do with a cloud name?

Cloud names represent a new namespace (like “.com” in the 1990s) that you can use as personalized digital address, whether you use your actual name, a pseudonym, or a “vanity plate”. As the Respect Network grows, your cloud name will connect you to a wide variety of apps and services that use Privacy by Design to give you control of your information online as well as much greater control of how others are allowed to communicate with you.

How big is a personal cloud?

On the Respect Network, every personal cloud contains a base cloud, which stores all your connections and permissions to other people and businesses on the network. Your Respect Network membership covers your base cloud and cloud name for life. To store other data in your personal cloud – anything from music, videos and files to medical, financial and insurance records – you can purchase additional capabilities from The Respect Network Corporation. Your Respect Network personal cloud is guaranteed to be portable to any other XDI-based network operator.

Can I use apps with my personal cloud?

Yes. Much as the smartphone brought us a whole new class of apps that could take advantage of mobility, the Respect Network will enable an entirely new class of apps that will be able to take advantage of trusted private connections. All data handled by these apps will be covered by the protections of the Respect Trust Framework, so you can be confident your privacy will be always be protected.

Who is developing apps?

The Respect Network is an evolving open standard platform for apps that can be written and distributed by any member. Respect Network Corporation is developing some basic infrastructure apps, but most apps will come from app developers around the world who want to take advantage of this new platform for trusted, private relationships.

What is a private channel?

On a network of private personal and business clouds, all communications are opt-in, i.e., a member may only send/receive messages and share data with other members who have given permission. This permissioned relationship is called a connection. Once a connection is formed, the connected members may set up as many private channels as needed to send messages and share private data in specific contexts.

For example, consider a university student and her professor. The two may initially set up a private channel for a class the student is taking. The professor may set up another private channel for a field trip. Later the two may set up a private channel on a research paper the student is writing.

All of these private channels reflect the relationship between a student as an individual and a professor as university employee, so they connect the student’s private cloud and the university’s business cloud. If the student and professor later become personal friends after the student graduates, they can set up a private channel between their personal clouds entirely independent of the university context.

This separation of contexts is what enables people and businesses to manage online privacy the same way we do in the real world.

How will private channels help buyers and sellers?

Let’s say you are in the market for a car. You could use a Respect Network app to “intent-cast” that you are interested in an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes. Auto dealers who are business members of the Respect Network could then respond directly, over a trusted private channel created by you for that purchase. The dealers can focus their marketing attention on you, a qualified and ready buyer, and you can focus your attention on them as qualified sellers. Once you have made your purchase (or decide not to buy), you can close that channel. That’s it. The seller has not had to spend weeks or months of advertising dollars trying to induce you to buy, and you’ve had a much more efficient, respectful and fulfilling buying experience.

The Network

How does the Respect Network actually operate?

The closest analogy is the Internet email system—a decentralized network in which each user has an account with a unique global address from which she can send and receive email messages from any other user using an open standard protocol (SMTP). All email accounts can find and exchange email directly with each other—peer-to-peer—by looking up the address in the global Internet DNS (Domain Name System) registries.

With the Respect Network, every user has a private cloud (a personal cloud for an individual or a business cloud for a company or organization). This private cloud has its own globally unique address and at least one pair of unique public/private encryption keys controlled by that user. The user can use her private cloud address and public/private keys to send/receive encrypted private messages and share encrypted private data over private channels with any other Respect Network user using an open standard protocol (XDI). All private clouds can find and exchange encrypted messages and data directly with each other—peer-to-peer—by looking up the address in global Internet XDI registries.

Where is my personal information stored?

Since the Respect Network is designed from the ground up to give the individual control of his/her data, there are several options:

  • At the Respect Network Corporation.
  • On the Respect Network you can also “self-host” – that is, run your personal cloud on an appliance in your home, your office or any co-location facility you choose.
  • A hybrid approach. You also have the choice to split your personal cloud across multiple locations. You could use a combination of a Respect Network Corporation and one or more self-hosted personal cloud servers. All of these options and more will be supported as the network grows, simply because you should always be in control.
If the data in my personal cloud is encrypted, where are the private keys stored?

Wherever you choose, although it can depend on the hosting options available and the apps you choose. As we develop self-hosting and you can choose to self-host, the keys can be stored on your own personal cloud server. They can also be stored by client apps on any device you trust.

Does the Respect Network store any of my personal data centrally?

Only the very bare minimum we need to operate and maintain trust on the network—primarily your cloud address and reputation information.

How does an end-user experience the network?

Just as a user experiences the Apple platform by using iOS apps on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, a user will experience the Respect Network platform by using XDI apps that run on any device (smartphone, tablet, computer, TV, car, etc.). Apps that run on the Respect Network platform have the following advantages:

  • The user needs only one Respect Network account, with one login and set of credentials, no matter how many apps she uses
  • All of a user’s connections, data, and preferences can be shared (with the user’s permission) across all apps
  • A user’s private channels can also be shared across all apps, making it easy to find, filter, and control messages and data
  • A user’s notifications can also be shared across all apps, making it easy for a user to control interruptions
  • All apps operate under the Respect Trust Framework, so the user is assured of strong security, privacy, and lifelong personal data control no matter what app she is using or data she is sharing
Besides decentralization and encryption, how else is Respect Network different from other networks?

The three other major differences are summarized in this table:



Centralized Social Networks

Respect Network

Trust model

One-sided terms of service
All members must agree to a lengthy terms-of-service document dictated by the network operator—and whose terms can be changed unilaterally at any time by that operator

Mutual trust framework
All members agree to the Respect Trust Framework, a mutual agreement to respect privacy and data rights—written in plain English—that can be changed only by a vote of the members


Advertising and data brokering
The network operator is incented to watch everything users do and read everything users write in order to learn everything possible about them

Member supported services
Three service levels are available to all members.

  1. Basic services are free.
  2. Upgraded services increase capabilities for a monthly fee.
  3. Sponsored services are available by participating in the Respect Affinity Network.

Graph model

Proprietary social graph
The major social networks use their own proprietary social graph model owned and controlled entirely by the network operator

Open standard XDI graph
The Respect Network uses an open standard public graph model that any app developer can build upon and any vendor can integrate into their products

But I have lots of choices for privacy on the web. What makes Respect Network Different?

Yes, there are lots of apps out there that solve a piece of the problem. Each of these categories represents a subset of the features of a web-of-trust network:

  • Secure text/chat. Silent Circle, TigerText, Cotap, Wickr, Telegram.
  • Secure email. Hushmail, HP SecureMail, ProtonMail, DarkMail
  • Self-destructing photo sharing. SnapChat, Clipchat, Slingshot.
  • Secure file sharing. SpiderOak, Tresorit, BitTorrent.
  • Group communications. Slack, Basecamp, Yammer, Microsoft Sharepoint, Salesforce Chatter.
  • Trust and reputation management. Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, LinkedIn, Reputation.com, GetSatisfaction.

The Respect Network is the only place where all these features are available in a single interoperable platform, simplifying usage and creating more value for the members.

What about anonymous texting applications like Yik Yak, Secret, and Whisper?

The premise of these apps is that communications can be uninhibited because participants are completely anonymous. Anonymous texting apps have been particularly popular on college campuses. Unfortunately, because there is no accountability, they also encourage bad behavior. This is already causing a backlash (Secret closed its doors in 2015).

The Respect Trust Framework does not support anonymous messaging. Instead, it supports accountable pseudonymity. This feature enables a Respect Network member to send messages or share data pseudonymously, while at the same time enabling the member to be held accountable if she violates the Respect Trust Framework or any other contractual or legal obligation. For details, see the Accountable Pseudonymity section of the Big Privacy white paper and the Privacyl section of the FAQs.

What about anonymity networks like Tor?

Tor enables completely anonymous communications at Internet scale. Again, complete anonymity is not part of the architecture of the Respect Network. The intention of a web-of-trust network is to build trust between members by holding each other accountable to uphold those security and privacy rules. Encryption is used to protect the security and privacy of member’s messages and data, not to escape accountability.

Does the Respect Network apply to the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Yes, absolutely. It has been said that the Internet of Things will not be possible without the Internet of People. In other words, the IoT raises so many security and privacy issues that its growth may be stunted unless we find a solution to the privacy problems with Big Data. The Respect Network represents that fundamental solution.

In addition, a June 2015 McKinsey study reported that 40% of the potential of the IoT depends on establishing wide-scale interoperability, which is exactly what the Respect Network is accomplishing by using the OASIS XDI semantic data interchange protocol.


Why doesn’t the Respect Network use the same advertising model that has been so successful for Google and Facebook?

Centralized social networks make their money through advertising and data brokering. This means they are strongly incented to watch everything their users do and read everything their users store in order to learn as much about them as possible. As the saying goes about online services, “If it’s free, you are the product.” As a product—an asset—the network is actively opposed to protecting your privacy or giving you control of your personal data.

In a web-of-trust network like the Respect Network, that equation is reversed. Users are not the product, they are our partners in a peer-to-peer trust network. Data is owned and controlled by the members, not the network. And privacy and personal data control are the assets that make the network valuable.

This does not mean advertising is not possible. It simply means it must use a completely different model, as described in the Respect Affinity Network section of the FAQs.

What is Respect Network’s alternative model?

The Respect Network SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) business model, called the Respect Business Framework, is summarized in Figure 2.

Who are the customers of the Respect Network Corporation?

The Respect Network serves three customer groups:

  1. Consumers—individuals who want a private personal cloud for private messaging and data sharing in their own personal sphere, i.e., independent of any business or group of which the individual is a member.
  2. Businesses—organizations that want a private business cloud for private B2B and/or B2C communications and data sharing.
  3. App Developers—businesses that build and distribute apps that run on the Respect Network web-of-trust platform—and who are also our key partners in the value chain.
What is the pricing structure for the Respect Network?

Three basic pricing tiers apply to all customer groups:

  1. Free—the entry level available to all customers at no charge.
  2. Premium—paid monthly or annual subscriptions.
  3. Respect Affinity Network—see the full description below.
What are free services?

Basic use of the Respect Network is free to all customers. This includes:

  • Cloud storage for files, pictures, and messages.
  • Rich messaging including voice, text, and multimedia.
  • Connection management to manage relationships in the network.
  • Search capabilities.
What are premium services?

All customers can opt for a premium level of service under a standard paid monthly or annual subscription model.


Consumers – For individuals who need higher levels of cloud service (storage, bandwidth, compute power), the Respect Network will offer monthly or annual subscription fees.


Businesses – As soon as a business needs greater capacity or premium features (advanced administration controls, advanced search, higher messaging or data security levels, etc.), it can seamlessly upgrade to a paid SaaS subscription.


App Developers – Although app developers are primarily partners in the Respect Network value chain, they too may need premium services from Respect Network Corporation in order to deliver on their value proposition. These services may include:

  1. Billing services. Since Respect Network Corporation has a direct relationship with every Respect Network customer, we can bill for apps (purchase or subscription) as well as for in-app purchases.
  2. API hosting services. To facilitate app development and integration, Respect Network will host app specific APIs on behalf of app developers for a monthly hosting fee.

App development services. Respect Network Corporation will also offer professional services to developers who want assistance in developing XDI and Respect Network-enabled apps.

What is the Respect Affinity Network?

This is a unique and powerful aspect of the model where consumers can upgrade to premium service at no charge if they agree to see private ads tailored to their specific interests only from business members of the Respect Network. Because every consumer manages her own interest profile in her own private cloud, and this information is only used to match private ads, consumers and businesses can receive the benefits of high personalization and relevance without the deep privacy issues of today’s surveillance-based ad networks.

How does the Respect Affinity Network work?

When an individual member opts-in to join the Respect Affinity Network, she decides what information about her and her interests she wishes to share with the network in order to influence the connection invitations she receives from business members. For example, a member may share that she is a woman in her thirties with two children working as an attorney.

This profile information is not shared with any business member, but used only by the Respect Affinity Network matching engine to determine what private ads she may receive as she uses her apps. Whether she chooses to explore those ads or connect with any of those companies—and what personal data she chooses to share with a business if she does connect—is strictly up to her.