Brave is a user-friendly and tracking-hostile alternative to Chrome & Co. Soon, the browser will also offer a decentralized VPN based on P2P.
Since 2016, the Brave Internet browser has been pursuing the bold goal of turning Internet browsing upside down – or, in the words of Brave creator and Mozilla Firefox co-founder Brendan Eich, – “fixing the Internet”. Accordingly, Brave does things differently that are commonplace with other browsers: Internet users are not tracked by design, so their browsing behavior is not logged and analyzed. Furthermore, the browser does not display irrelevant advertisements. Users also have the option of whether and which advertisements they want to view.
Cookies and pop-ups are also taboo with Brave. This is supposed to make surfing more pleasant, calling up Internet pages more streamlined and also more secure. Now Brave Software Inc. has announced the introduction of a VPN network and thus another security or anonymity feature. This may not sound very exciting at first, after all, there has long been a browser with an integrated VPN in Opera. But Brave’s Virtual Private Network is supposed to work quite differently.
Brave VPN-0: Decentralized VPN
Brave is working on a decentralized VPN called VPN-0. Decentralized, because with normal VPNs like this, the IP addresses are assigned centrally by the respective VPN provider. With VPN-0, users always surf with the IP address of another user.
Similar to a peer-to-peer network in which users offer and use files or services on an equal footing, for example, VPN-0 users are intended to act simultaneously as VPN users and VPN nodes to the outside world for other network participants.
By disguising the real identity of a user with the IP address of any other, VPN-0 is supposed to ensure anonymity. But this becomes a problem as soon as, for example, cybercriminals do something illegal with someone else’s IP. In such a case, the actual owner of the IP could be prosecuted.
VPN-0: Blocked pages
Brave researchers want to counteract this by allowing only certain innocuous sites to be accessed with VPN-0, such as those of a well-known news platform. But what is innocuous and what is not?
And how do you control the data stream, which is encrypted in a VPN? The scientists involved in Brave want to solve this problem with a kind of whitelist. This means that only certain, predefined domains are released for surfing with VPN-0 and can be accessed.
Still slow, later free of charge
The purpose of a whitelist is also the problem. Because not the entire Internet is accessible, and pages must be released in advance. In addition, it is currently still the case that establishing a connection via VPN-0 while surfing takes quite a long time, because the whitelist query and release of the desired pages are still too slow. However, the tinkerers behind the project are sure that they will be able to solve this problem in the foreseeable future. As soon as this is done and Brave’s VPN-0 works properly, it will be integrated into the in-house browser and will be free of charge.
Brave Browser: Blockchain and Adblock
Brave browser is a concept with a novel adblock option. Ads can be blocked according to the user’s own settings, so that page loading times are reduced and privacy is protected. The concept is not aimed at an Internet experience without ads. The developers want to ensure that ads are more secure and use fewer middlemen. Brave has its own cryptocurrency token called BAT, which is supposed to offer special incentives to users and publishers. You can find more information here.
Overview and concept
The startup’s novel concept is based on blockchain technology. The Ethereum blockchain is used. This also forms the basis for the company’s own cryptocurrency. The token is called BAT, which stands for Basic Attention Token. In its first funding, the StartUp earned around $36 million in 24 seconds on May 31 this year by selling one billion BAT units.
The developer intends to use these tokens for transactions in the advertising industry. Advertisers, or advertisers, pay publishers in these tokens to place ads. Brave itself pays browser users who view ads. So far, about 1,100 publishers and YouTube artists have participated in the Brave system. Through a partnership with e-wallet provider Uphold, these participants can exchange their BAT tokens for dollars and other currencies. The e-wallet here represents a kind of virtual wallet that makes these transactions possible.
Regular users can only use their BAT tokens for purchases, but not exchange them. However, the developers promise more extensive application possibilities for the tokens. For example, new news articles could be purchased and unlocked using BAT tokens. This should give users more autonomy in their decisions, as they are no longer tied to subscriptions with monthly or annual payments.
Potential of blockchain technology for browsers and ads
The underlying Ethereum blockchain promises unprecedented transparency and anonymity across numerous transactions. Large corporations such as Microsoft and IBM are cultivating collaborations with numerous startups in the blockchain world and see a bright future for this technology.
With its browser, developers are trying to eliminate previous common drawbacks and weaknesses of current ad technology. Ads often come at the expense of privacy and page loading speed. In addition, there is always a risk of abuse by malware providers who inject their malicious programs in the form of malvertising. The decentralized use and own tokens are supposed to circumvent these problems.
Brave Payments incentive system with bonus tokens
The ability to block ads meets a compensation mechanism. Brave is currently testing an incentive system to reward ad publishers. The system, called Brave Payments, allows users to set a budget of BAT tokens that they donate to the website they visit. Based on an algorithm, the manufacturer then calculates the share accrued to each website. Publishers subsequently receive their reward in the form of the cryptocurrency BAT. Users receive 30 tokens, which Brave Browser forwards to publishers or YouTube artists. The latter can then exchange it for other currencies.
- The developers expect that the token stock, as well as the incentive system, will attract new users and encourage existing users to create e-wallets and participate in BAT transactions.
- Those who use the browser and the BAT token system, their browsers automatically forward BAT tokens to website publishers. The extent to which this happens depends on either the time spent on the page or the percentage previously set by the user.
- Brave also assumes that an increasing number of YouTubers will use the system and thus contribute to a further spread of BAT and Brave (download link). In the medium and long term, the operators plan to expand their BAT network to include other third-party software.