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Against the data collection frenzy

Brave: Open source web browser wants to turn web marketing upside down

Michael Thomas

A lion is staring ahead into the sky image via Shutterstock

Brendan Eich, known as the co-founder of Mozilla and creator of JavaScript, has introduced Brave, an open source web browser which blocks advertising displayed on websites, and replaces it with its own tracking and malware free advertisement.

The central feature of Brave is the standard blocking of so-called programmatic, therefore fully automatic individualized, advertisement in the internet, as well as tracking cookies and additional data collection technologies like analytic scripts and tracking pixels. Compared to today’s viable solutions like for example browser plug-ins Adblock Plus or Ghostery and Co., surfing with Brave should be potentially quicker and safer (keyword: Malvertising, distribution of malware via online advertising).

But there is a key point: Brave does not simply filter the corresponding advertising and leave it at that, but it replaces the blocked entries with its own advertisement. This would come from advertising partners who cooperate directly with Brave, in which case a set of minimal standards would be achieved, meaning that the advertisement is less invasive than the entries displayed before and scrutinized for Malware. Unlike “normal” programmatic advertisement which falls back on tracking cookies, only local user browser history is pulled up for individualized advertising in Brave. Common advertising which does not rely on tracking remains untouched by Brave.

Reallocation of advertising revenues

Ad blockers generally have a reputation of being good for users and bad for website owners, nevertheless the latter often rely on advertising revenue to be able to offer their services free of charge. According to the Ars Technica tech blog, Brave is apparently planning to resolve this dilemma and share a piece of the pie with website operators: thus they should receive 55% of the advertising revenue, 15 percent would go respectively to Brave, the ad suppliers, and – attention! to the user. The latter group would use the money (presumably in the form of Bitcoins) for micropayments in the web (e.g. contributions for bloggers) or could have the amount paid out to them. How this system would work in practice has so far remained completely unclear, though.

Other issues still seem to be in the dark as well. So the only additional feature known to date which distinguishes Brave from other browsers, is the fact that it loads the HTTPS version of a website by default, if it exists (yet even this could soon be resolved using plug-ins (e.g. . HTTPS Everywhere). Just as unclear as the additional features is the question of whether after inserting their own advertising, Brave is in fact quicker than other browsers with ad block activated.

Brave is open source, GitHub repositories are available for Mac/Windows/Linux, iOS and Android. If you would like to have a first look at Brave, you need to access it (an installer doesn’t exist yet) or apply as a beta tester. The desktop version is based on Chromium, the mobile versions on Firefox for iOS or Link Bubble. A first stable version released for the public should be available over the course of this year, according to current planning.

Author
Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas studied Educational Science at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and has been working as a freelance author at JAXenter.de since 2013.

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