A Brave Step for Browsers

Internet1The viability of free content is becoming a hot topic, but in discussions on internet advertising, privacy issues often tend to surface as well. I have written a few articles discussing paywalls and adblockers and the tolls they have taken on the internet in recent years. In answer to privacy concerns, Brendan Eich, known for his work on JavaScript and Mozilla, is working on a new browser called Brave, which replaces targeted ads with anonymous ones.

Brave will be connected to its own private cloud which will host anonymous ads. The browser works by first blocking targeted ads and tracking, then replacing all of the ad spots with anonymous untargeted ads. Revenue for ads will be divided between publishers and users, after Brave takes a cut. The browser’s choice of ads will be based on information pooled from all users instead of targeting each individual.

The problem Eich is trying to address with Brave has to do with choice. In the current system of targeted ads, decisions are made for the users by browsers and websites, and those decisions are guided by the interests of content publishers in pushing as many ads and getting as many click-throughs as possible. Brave’s is an interesting route to take, and one that hasn’t been explored by other browsers yet, at least to my knowledge.

In some ways Brave reminds me of the Tor browser in that it caters to specific user concerns, although the goals of the two browsers are a bit different. Tor hides users’ IP addresses, giving them more anonymity while accessing the web. This adds overhead and can make Tor a little slower than other browsers. I’d be a little worried about Brave also being slower than normal browsers, which do not perform similar services for users in the background. However loading ads can considerably slow download times for websites in any browser. Since Brave blocks ads and fills the ad spaces itself, it could potentially speed load times for ad-laden sites.

Personally, I am not as worried about the apparent invasion of privacy as users who are bothered by targeted ads. For me, the ads themselves are more of an irritation than an affront that I am being targeted for specific ads, but this is not true of everyone. I think there is a legitimate market for a browser like Brave. Whether or not it will catch on, I think it’s a nice option to have available, to those looking for the benefits it provides.

As of now, Brave is in version 0.7, so it’s not even in the beta testing phase yet, but you can sign up to be notified when a beta version become available. What Brave solves is a specific niche concern, but one that is very important to a lot of people. It is a cool development in the browser marketplace. If you’re someone who is more bothered by ads being targeted at you than by the mere existence of ads themselves, you might want to keep your eyes on Brave. It could provide just what you’ve been looking for in your internet experience.