Today's post will not likely be so popular on this site and I am well aware of that even before I make the post. Why? Because this site is filled with people who heavily support the Brave Browser. In fact, I suspect that is how the site makes its money - from Brave users.
However I have had issues with Brave since long before today and I believe I have good reason to have issues with it.
There are three main issues I have with Brave and I will list them in order of least importance to most importance to me.
False sense of security
The first topic I am going to talk about is privacy. Brave is claimed all over the internet to be a privacy friendly browser that is built off of the Chromium Browser.
If one is going to carry the claims of being a privacy consciousness browser then it should be compared to other privacy browsers not the parent browser, other Chromium based browsers nor that of Google's own Chrome Browser.
The fact is, there is only one true browser that does privacy correctly and that is none other than the TOR Browser. The TOR browser has been developed for years and years and to date is the only browser that has literally every kink worked out of it.
When building a privacy browser one needs to evaluate everything the TOR Browser offers and compare it to what is being built. The trouble with that is, TOR Browser is not built on Chromium it is built on Firefox. So how can one compare a Chromium based browser to one that is built from Firefox? Simply put - you can't.
What you can do however is research TOR Browser and find out why they opted not to build on Chromium, something that has been requested time and time again by users of the browser. When researching, what you will find is lists of reasons why the Chromium Browser can never be secured - at least not in its current state.
Some of the reasons that Chromium cannot be secured include things like:
- Long-Running Sessions can be tracked
- Flash Cookies can be used for tracking
- Fonts can be used for tracking
The list of ways a user can be tracked can be found at https://trac.webkit.org/wiki/Fingerprinting. The unfortunate thing is that many of these methods are listed as having no solution or workaround. This makes it so Chromium is just not a viable option to avoid being tracked.
Now of course if your only concern is not being tracked by Google through your browser this doesn't matter much to you, however if you expect to truly not be tracked, this becomes a bigger issue.
Some readers may be thinking "yeah but who is going to go through the trouble of using these obscure tracking methods?" I will tell you exactly who - companies like facebook will go to such lengths. Companies who entire lifeline relies on being able to track will go to such lengths, and that includes the very company that makes the parent browser - that of google.
The truth is, if a method of tracking exists - these companies will find a way to track you. However not only will companies find ways to track you, Brave has already been caught allowing some websites to track you! Brave had a hidden whitelist of websites exposed that was allowed to track users without ever informing users of these exceptions.
Now you will note that the tracking issue is actually the first thing I listed and as such, the least important.
The next issue I have plays directly into the first issue and it relates specifically to being a content provider or website owner.
Zero privacy for web masters and content providers
Content providers can actually toss all privacy out the window if they wish to work with Brave.
One of the unique features of Brave is that users can leave tips to website creators and content providers directly through their Brave browser. The provider however, has zero privacy offered to them.
If you have read any of my other posts you probably realize that being anonymous and decentralized are very important aspects of cryptocurrency for me. However if one wishes to accept BAT from users of the Brave Browser they are not offered this anonymity. In fact rather the opposite.
A content provider has to register as a content provider with Brave. This is not a problem within and of itself as Brave requires the same basic things as Google Adsense in terms of a content provider earning with the platform. One merely has to prove they own a website through various means.
The trouble is, to accept BAT you MUST use a third party service to accept the funds. There is only one single third party service you are allowed to use - that of uphold. Uphold is a wallet provider of sorts and like most web based wallet providers, you don't actually hold your own keys - meaning the money you are earning - is not yours until you move it off the web wallet platform.
No big deal right? Just move your money off the platform often and their should be no real problem.
The trouble is, they require you to go through a KYC process to be able to access your funds.
This means all privacy is gone. Whereas Brave Browser promises its end users privacy and no tracking - that is exactly the opposite for content providers and website owners. They do not get the same luxury. This makes earning with Brave and BAT a completely centralized process that stores data about websites and website owners.
This is a much bigger problem. Why should one have to give up all privacy just to earn crypto tokens as a website owner. In fact, this is the only platform I know of that goes to such lengths. I can earn with Google Adsense without having to send them photo ID. I can use Bing Ads without having to send them photo ID. Yet for BAT tips and BAT ads, I must be willing to send in a photo ID if I wish to ever access my earnings.
This is a very big problem for me and it actually doesn't end here.
The claim is that in the future users of Brave will be able to access their BAT from their Brave browser. However the wallets that maintain a users BAT are managed by Uphold as well.
This means if a user will want to access their own tokens - they will also have to go through this KYC practice. So much for any privacy claims of the Brave Browser when that day arrives.
The final topic also relates heavily to webmasters and content providers.
In the early and mid 2000's there was a practice that happened all to often called cookie stuffing. Cookie stuffing was basically a method used by advertisers so they could steal funds from other advertisers by stuffing a users browser with cookies that would track sales back to them instead of the advertiser who should have actually made the sale and earned commissions.
According to Wikipedia the exact definition of cookie stuffing is
On the World Wide Web, cookie stuffing (also cookie dropping) is an affiliate marketing technique in which, as a result of visiting a website, a user receives a third-party cookie from a website unrelated to that visited by the user, usually without the user being aware of it. If the user later visits the target website and completes a qualifying transaction (such as making a purchase), the cookie stuffer is paid a commission by the target.
What the Brave Browser has done is take this practice of cookie stuffing to steal funds from affiliates and carried it to a whole new level.
Lets imagine for a moment that I am a very paranoid person about my identity but I still want to make money online through my website. First I start out by registering my domain name with a 100% anonymous service such as anonymously. I am assured this way there is no real name attached to my domain name at all.
I don't have to prove who I am and can in fact register with only a Bitcoin address and an email address. I am not required to provide any physical address, name or anything else. Further lets assume I get completely anonymous web hosting using a similar method of paying with cryptocurrency.
Now obviously if I go through all this trouble, I am not going to then turn around and use a service that requires my name, address, or any other details. Instead I opt to use services such as coinzilla or coinverti. My end goal of course is to earn some money to help pay for the costs of hosting, advertising and operating my anonymous website.
I don't opt to use Brave publishing for the reason listed in the previous section - I am just not willing to go through a KYC process to earn funds.
This is a problem for Brave. The way Brave works is that they will remove the advertising I have on my site and replace it with their own ads, ads I do not make any money from. This is theft of my website property as well as my potential earnings.
Imagine if you owned a home and you are being paid by a local business to place a large ad in your lawn to advertise their business. Now imagine someone comes along and takes that ad off of your lawn and replaces it with some other businesses ad that they are getting paid to advertise. Now not only are you not getting paid but you have someone else's ad in your lawn that someone other than yourself is getting paid for.
You would be very unhappy. In fact you might even file a lawsuit over it - especially if there were no way you could remove the ad and prevent it from happening.
However this is EXACTLY what brave does to website owners. They remove the website owners ads and replace them with their own ads. This means they are now making money off those ads and the website owner is getting nothing - yet the website owner is losing space on their website to accommodate this.
Plain and simple this is theft.
Even google has started to realize the damaging effect of ad blocking and has begun removing ad blocking browser plugins and the ones they do allow, they make it much harder to do blocking under the guise of protecting users privacy.
However that is mostly irrelevant as users want ads blocked, but they shouldn't be allowed to block ads, while replacing them with other ads. At that point it just becomes theft of potential earnings on a website owner, and most often times in these kinds of situations its not the giants that get hurt, its the small time website owners who have no other means of paying for a websites operational costs.
As long as brave continues to work with companies that violate users privacy, create a false sense of security, and steal funds from website operators I simply cannot recommend Brave to others and I will personally steer clear of it.
I hope at some point in the future the creators of Brave realize they need to allow users to chose who their wallet provider is for themselves and that their advertising network grows to such that they can stop stealing funds from website operators.
Until then, I will keep on saying no to Brave.