rowsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari are some of the most popular amongst users and having a certain preference between them would seem trivial. However, that would no longer be the case as certain controversies in browser privacy have started to gain mainstream attention.
Browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari are some of the most popular amongst users and having a certain preference between them would seem trivial. However, that would no longer be the case as certain controversies in browser privacy have started to gain mainstream attention.
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Data can be argued to be the number one commodity of the 21st century, and companies (especially the big tech giants) are looking to gain as much access to consumer data as possible.
This has led to various issues with privacy. The concern of privacy rose to mainstream prominence when Facebook was involved in a scandal with Cambridge Analytica. It was revealed that Cambridge Analytica harvested personal data from millions of people’s Facebook profiles (without their consent) for advertising purposes.
There are also small controversies with Google Chrome where they have been known to track browsing history in order to build a profile of a user’s interests, income and personality. Anecdotally, there have been stories where people would have a conversation about a certain product and strangely enough the product would appear to them in an ad.
Whether this coincidence is due to tech companies listening in on people’s conversation or something else, the issue of privacy and protection of one’s data is becoming a new issue in the 21st century.
The primary use for consumer data is advertising. With the internet reaching billions of users all over the world, digital advertising has become the main method for companies to reach consumers. With the rise of ads, many users have resorted to using ad blocking software.
Wikipedia states that the use of ad blocking software grew by 41% worldwide and by 48% in the U.S. between the second quarter of 2014 and second quarter of 2015. As of second quarter 2015, 45 million Americans were using ad blockers.
In 2019 both Apple and Google made changes to their web browsers’ extension systems, which imposed limits on the number of entries that could be filtered by ad blocking extensions. This has led to accusations that this change in their system was put into place to inhibit the effectiveness of ad blockers.
Brave is a browser specifically designed to keep the user’s privacy intact. The browser’s operating servers neither see nor store any browsing data. That data stays private on the user’s devices until it is deleted. This means the user’s data can never be sold to third parties.
Additionally, Brave comes with an integrated ad block system (called Shields) that not only blocks ads but also unwanted cookies, and cross-site trackers. Of course, all these privacy settings can be adjusted within the browser to suit the user’s preferences.
Besides integrated privacy, the most innovative feature Brave introduces is its Brave Rewards system. In this system, users are awarded with a cryptocurrency called Basic Attention Token (BAT). When an ad is viewed, the publisher who created the ad will receive compensation in BAT, and the user that viewed the ad will be compensated in BAT as well.
This reward system seems contradictory for what Brave wants to achieve with privacy. However, these ads are “opt in to view” and are from verified publishers. Rest assured, the typical low quality “spammy” ads normally found on sites will still remain blocked. Also, the user will have full control in the frequency to which these opt in ads will pop up. At the moment, BAT can only be used within the Brave Rewards ecosystem and a user’s BAT cannot be redeemed for cash just yet.
The integration of this type of reward system represents a big change in content creation. What Brave attempts to achieve with BAT is giving power to the users and allowing them to reward the content creators they support.
Within the Brave Rewards system, users can decide to donate tips to verified content creators and publishers. The browser sees that transaction (personal information remains private) and then future opt in ads will be better suited towards what the user has shown to support.
The reward system allows for a better interaction between content creators and users, allowing content creators to have an idea of what their user base wants.
For the purposes of writing this article, I have been using Brave for one week on all my devices. I am happy to say that the interface is very similar to Google Chrome, so the transition between browsers and navigating around Braves’ settings has been very easy. I was also surprised at the amount blocked tracking attempts that were made during my browsing sessions.
Of course, the most enticing aspect about Brave is being paid to browse the internet, I set the frequency of the ads to highest amount and expected to be bombarded with ads.
Pleasantly enough, when an ad pops up it is not intrusive at all, and when one does pop up, you still have the option of viewing it. With a small amount of BAT saved up from viewing ads, I am looking forward to supporting my favorite content creators so that they can keep making content I enjoy.
If this browser reaches more mainstream adoption, it can really breathe new life into the content creation space and give a new way for publishers and creators to thrive on the internet. As of writing this article, there are around 5.5 million active users on Brave and hopefully we get to see this number grow in the future.
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