Back in November, I told you all about the Brave browser.
Brave offers private browsing and also allows you to reward your favorite websites with BATs (Brave Attention Tokens) if the site creators are enrolled in the rewards program. There are even private ads placed on some pages that you can choose to view when it’s convenient for you. Brave is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems and also for your Android or Apple Mobile device.
Now the privacy-focused browser is under fire. According to the company behind Brave:
Who owns your attention? Who owns your web browsing experience? Who gets paid? If not you, then you’re “product”.
They caught tweaking the autocomplete function in the Brave address bar. When folks were looking for cryptocurrency exchanges, it finished the address with the address of a company that had a financial partnership with the browser.
Founder Brendan Eich said, “We made a mistake, we’re correcting: Brave default autocompletes verbatim “binance.us” in the address bar to add an affiliate code. We are a Binance affiliate, we refer users via the opt-in trading widget on the new tab page, but autocomplete should not add any code.
But he also defended the move, saying that he had a business to run:
“With Brave, we’re trying to build a viable business that puts users first by aligning interests via private ads that pay users. What we make on fixed fee schedule, no browser data in the clear on any of our servers, and so on. But we seek skin-in-game affiliate revenue too.”
As expected, he got slammed by privacy advocates. Eich made it clear that at no time did the browser redirect anyone who’d typed in their own address or clicked on a link.
“I see the mistaken belief that Brave rewrites links in pages. We have never & will not do any such thing. The autocomplete defaults we’re removing provide completions to Brave’s address bar type-in. No in-page link rewriting apart from standards compliance + HTTPS Everywhere.”
Still, a lot of people found it completely unacceptable behavior from a product that claims privacy and independence from advertisers as a selling point.