Somehow, privacy has become somewhat of a controversial concept in recent years.
Some people say if you have nothing to hide, then privacy should be of no concern to you. But can the issue be reduced to such a binary perspective?
As journalist Glenn Greenwald explains in the Ted Talk below, privacy is an important and fundamental right for everyone. He poses a simple question to those who proclaim that privacy concerns are only for the paranoid.
He asks them for usernames and passwords to all of their email accounts.
Of course, no one ever agrees to this. And yet, many people have no problem with websites tracking their browsing habits with cookies, search engines logging their searches, email clients archiving their messages, and intelligence agencies collecting and storing almost every piece of virtual information available.
We won’t dive into the ethical, legal, or political implications of privacy concerns here. But we will discuss one piece of software putting browsing back into the hands of users via blockchain technology.
Brave is a browser unlike any other.
Browsing the web is a necessity for most everyone these days. You’re using a web browser right now to read this article.
But what do you know about your browser and the company who created it?
Did you know your browser has a “fingerprint” that can be used to track you, regardless of your apparent IP address?
Ever see ads for something you just searched for or clicked on? Thank the cookies stored in your browser for allowing companies to better target you with advertisements. This kind of browsing experience is broken, since ads become ubiquitous and ad revenue gets gobbled up by a small group of megalithic corporations.
By contrast, Brave is “on a mission to fix the web.” Brave describes itself as:
“Much more than a browser, Brave is a new way of thinking about how the web works. Brave is open source and built by a team of privacy focused, performance oriented pioneers of the web.”
Brave has features no other browser to date has ever incorporated, including:
– Built-in TOR functionality (more on this below)
– One-click anti-tracking mechanism (shields)
– Reward system based on the Basic Attention Token (BAT)
In Brave, users can open a new tab with TOR (short for The Onion Router, TOR anonymizes web traffic by routing your requests through a series of servers located in different countries around the world).
Even without using TOR, Brave users still enjoy a degree of privacy that users of other browsers do not.
“Shields up” means that you are protected from a variety of ad trackers and third-party fingerprinting attempts. Because this may break the functionality of some sites, you can “lower your shields” with a single click and turn off the privacy-enhancing features of the browser.
But wait, there’s a problem.
If advertisers can’t track you in order to market their products and services, and websites can’t host those ads for affiliate revenue, how will any site remain profitable in this new internet?
Creator Rewards: How it Works
If you’re not yet impressed, just wait. The coolest and most revolutionary feature of Brave is the built-in Basic Attention Token (BAT) wallet. This wallet enables users to send BAT to creators of sites they enjoy.
Do you own a website? Consider registering with Brave Rewards. Once you’re set up, users who visit your site while using Brave can send you BAT if they like your content.
This system has been created in an attempt to overthrow the existing online revenue model of users having to tolerate advertisements so that websites can be profitable. Sacrificing privacy becomes a necessity in that model, as ad trackers embedded in your browser cache enable companies to target you with user-specific advertisements (not to mention even more intrusive tracking methods like browser fingerprinting).
Because websites can be rewarded with BAT instead of having to rely on ad revenue, the entire paradigm changes.
The Basic Attention Token is listed on major exchanges like Coinbase and Poloniex. Although getting website creators and internet users to participate in the BAT ecosystem is a core goal of Brave, using the built-in BAT wallet is optional.
And as you might imagine, most sites have yet to register with Brave rewards. But don’t let that stop you from sending them BAT — the tokens will be stored in a wallet and waiting for them until they do decide to register.
Be Brave When Browsing: Download the App
You can download the Brave app on your phone and get Brave on your desktop to enjoy this new browsing experience.
Personally, when it comes to browsers on mobile, I don’t use anything else anymore. Brave is so fast that it’s too painful to use anything else. And avoiding ads without even having to install a browser extension is quite convenient.
Brave is slowly starting to integrate more browser extensions into its software as it matures, grows, and transforms. One day the browser may be even more user-friendly than its competitors.
At that point, Brave’s mission to “fix the web” will be almost complete.