Announcing Fides: an open-source vision for the future of data privacy

We’re thrilled to announce Fides, an open-source description language and toolset for privacy. Named for the Roman goddess of trust, Fides lets developers make privacy a feature of any tech stack. Read our CEO Cillian’s letter on why we believe Fides can forever change the field of privacy engineering.

On behalf of our team at Ethyca, I’m excited to share two large announcements today —

First, Ethyca has raised an additional $7.5M in funding from LGF and Table Management. This new capital is all about supporting the next phase of Ethyca’s privacy roadmap: providing lightweight open-source developer tools for privacy. 

This is a vision that started three years ago and is coming to fruition today. 

The funding news coincides with the most exciting announcement in Ethyca’s story. Today we’re announcing the first release of Fides, a lightweight open-source description language and toolset for privacy to make it a natural feature of any tech stack.

What is Fides?

Fides, pronounced “fee-dehz”, is named after the Roman goddess of trust. Fides is associated with an ethos of reciprocal honesty that we believe is innate to humanity, yet has been difficult to naturally achieve in software development — until now.

Fides is a lightweight description language based on YAML that you can use to declare privacy characteristics of your applications, datasets and broader tech stack. It’s already used by developers at some of the world’s leading software companies, and their input is invaluable in shaping these tools for the wider developer community.

Why open-source?

Since the beginning of this journey three years ago, we believed that any viable solution to privacy must be open-source. Until now, privacy has been the preserve of legal and policy experts or a handful of highly-specialized privacy engineers that understand policy, human computer interaction, and software development.

The complex and siloed nature of privacy responsibilities in a business makes good Privacy by Design difficult to ensure in every system. In order to make good on the idea that every user on earth has a right to control their personal information, privacy must be a default feature of every tech stack.

An open-source, community-driven approach allows us to work together to define a standard we can all adopt. With Fides, we’re simplifying the complexity into a language and tools that automate the most important tasks for making safer software. 

It’s our belief and ambition that Fides can form the basis of a commonly adopted standard to simplify privacy for developers and their users.

What does Fides do?

In this first public release, Fides is ready to support the difficult privacy challenges faced by software and data engineers. Fides is intentionally lightweight, making it easy for developers to describe data and data privacy-related characteristics of software in human-readable YAML files managed in Git.

This allows you to create definitions of privacy that can be versioned, evaluated for risk, and used to automate privacy operations on your infrastructure.

Specifically:

1. Make privacy an automated check in CI

You can build policies that are centrally managed by the Fides web server to automatically enforce privacy declarations on your CI pipeline, ensuring your business requirements are met. 

2. Generate privacy reports from Git

You can create a definition of privacy in each project, run reports for what categories of data are being processed, and ascertain context (such as what purpose the data is being used for and who owns it) — all directly in the project.

3. Automated privacy requests

Once your application is deployed, Fidesops can build an identity graph from the Fides declarations to automate complex data privacy requests such as access and deletion, with configurable control for data and engineering teams.

The future of privacy

Historically the privacy problem has been managed with complex legal frameworks, privacy policies, and data agreements, which product and engineering teams had to parse to synthesize features in their tech stack.

We believe the power to build respectful technology rests with the developer community, and Fides represents the first brick in a foundation of tools that must be freely-available and easily-understood to make privacy, respect, and trust a default layer of every tech stack.

As I look to the future with the team at Ethyca, I’m boundlessly optimistic. I believe our community of product, software, and data engineers can build incredible technology that respects the rights of every human being and provides a more trustworthy digital ecosystem for the world to use. 

Today is just the first step in Fides’ public journey. We’re already incredibly excited about the capabilities that will be introduced in the coming months. If you’d like to learn more or contribute to the project, you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Join us at github.com/ethyca/fides.

We’re thrilled to announce Fides, an open-source description language and toolset for privacy. Named for the Roman goddess of trust, Fides lets developers make privacy a feature of any tech stack. Read our CEO Cillian’s letter on why we believe Fides can forever change the field of privacy engineering.

Ready to get started?

Our team of data privacy devotees would love to show you how Ethyca helps engineers deploy CCPA, GDPR, and LGPD privacy compliance deep into business systems. Let’s chat!