No one said the Internet had to be this way. No one said that to access websites we’d have to give a giant tech company a list of every page we read, every video we watch, and every link we click. No one said that that tech company could then sell that private information to other companies to fill our screens with targeted ads.
But that’s how the Internet developed. If you use Google Chrome, then every Web page you read, including this one, is added to a database containing a list of your browser habits. Alphabet, Google’s holding company, is able to track everything you do online through your browser. It knows your interests. It has figured out your tastes in music. It can guess your political opinions.
Why Do We Hand Over That Information?
We agree to hand over that personal information for two reasons.
First, we don’t feel the payment. We don’t have to click a button to authorize the release of our personal data every time we close the computer; the tech companies take their payments automatically.
Instead, we feel like we’re getting something for nothing. Other than some pay-walled sites that demand cash, we know that we don’t have to pay to check out Web pages filled with interesting information. When we don’t see the payment, we believe we’re getting a deal.
And second, no one has come up with a better model. The principle that companies quietly take our private information and deliver Internet access for free but get paid by advertisers has worked. No one has changed it.
You Deserve a Better, Braver Internet
It claims to be between three and six times faster than other browsers but more importantly, it starts private. You don’t have to load an ad-blocking plugin or dig through privacy settings that are impossible to understand. The browser has a feature called Brave Shields, which is on by default. It blocks third-party ads, trackers, and those annoying auto-play videos.
Second, if you do choose to view ads, you get paid. A feature called Brave Ads lets you opt-in to see advertising. Those ads are matched using information that stays on your browser.
Unlike Chrome, Brave doesn’t store your information in a database somewhere. You keep your information with you. When an ad appears on a page you’re viewing, you get 70 percent of the page’s ad revenue. The payment arrives in a digital currency called BAT, or Basic Attention Tokens.
Brave recognizes that your attention has a value. Your time has a value. If you’re prepared to spend a few minutes looking at a Web page—and at an ad on that Web page—you’re giving away something of value and you should receive something of value in return. You get BAT.
You can change that BAT into a fiat currency but you can also use it to fund Brave Rewards. This are tips and subscriptions that you can give to websites whose content you enjoy. More than 340,000 creators have already signed up, including media outlets like The Washington Post, WikiHow , and Vice.
So Brave is offering a completely new model, powered by cryptocurrency. Instead of letting a major corporation keep track of what you’re doing online, you keep all your personal information to yourself. If you choose to see ads, you get paid for your attention. If that means creators and publishers get less revenue, you can share that revenue with sites you really like. Either way, you’re in charge—not a big technology company.
It won’t be easy for Brave to compete with established browsers like Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge. But so far, the take-up has been encouraging. The browser now has 10 million monthly active users, triple the number it had twelve months earlier.
If Brave continues to grow, expect other browsers to start changing their models to keep up.
We could be entering a Brave new world of Internet browsing.