Brave, the company behind the privacy-centric Brave Browser, is releasing a built-in news reader that prevents websites from tracking the articles that people view. The service is called Brave Today, and works by first passing requests through a proxy server that strips out a user's IP address before sending the request along to a news provider.
Trust issues — As with any proxy service or VPN, you sort of have to trust that Brave isn't itself going to snoop on your requests. But Brave's whole business is providing a privacy-friendly alternative to Google Chrome, so it's taking care to maintain trust with the new service — which itself is a direct competitor to Google News.
The company says while its proxy server can see a user's IP address, requests are encrypted so that Brave can't see the contents. And news providers don't receive the user's IP address, just the request, which is of course returned in encrypted form. Brave works with a third-party proxy service that restricts access to logs so that its employees can't see any IPs.
Since Brave Today eliminates the ability to generate a profile of what a user often reads, it likely won't be as good at personalizing content as the Googles and TikToks of the world. The service is supposed to generate recommendations locally by matching the sites a person reads against other related domains in a set of RSS feeds based on popular sites ranked by Comscore, Feedly, and Alexa. Brave Today has 15 news categories — with topics ranging from Crypto to Sports — from 300 sources.
Business model — The Brave browser was built around the idea that tracking ruins the web because all of the scripts and advertisements being injected into a page hurt performance, and users have little control over who gets to see what they're viewing online. Brave makes money through its own advertising program which allows brands to purchase privacy-friendly ads that get injected into websites that have joined its publisher program. The advertisements are opt-in for users who can earn cryptocurrency in exchange for enabling them. The cryptocurrency can be used to contribute to news websites in the publisher program.
Generating detailed profiles of user activity is valuable because websites can keep people hooked by showing them content that will keep them interested — and charge brands more for precise targeting. For that reason, Brave will likely never become a Google-sized advertising behemoth. But the public has pushed back on online tracking in recent years as it's difficult to know just how much data is being collected on them, and opting out is overly complicated. Brave claims to have more than 22 million monthly active users.
Some publishers understandably don't like Brave blocking their advertisements and require users to disable that functionality to view their sites. Brave Today is available starting today in every version of the browser except on Android.