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What's your take on Brave services ?

Added by ask low 2 months ago

I hear a lot of good things about Brave by creator sponsors. Some common questions to ask is:

1. Creators like Linux Experiment, Chris Titus, Techlore, DasGeek, BrodieRobertson, etc (who claim to be privacy concious) promote Brave services. WHY?
2. Did you test their services ? If so, do you see brave as a privacy respecting project ?
3. Your thoughts on Brave browser ? I tried once & they hardcoded prefetching, no ability to change UAH or even set custom search engine.
4. Is it worth using Brave Search instead of google search ?
5. Brave Rewards ? Brave Wallet ? Why even crypto ? Is this the main reason users seem to care about ? Caz they earn by watching ads ?

As per the comment https://redmine.stoutner.com/boards/1/topics/183?r=188#message-188, you concluded that Brave Search does not respect custom user agent hint set by Privacy Browser. Although, it works properly on other UAHs (without JS too).


Replies (6)

RE: What's your take on Brave services ? - Added by Soren Stoutner 2 months ago

Brave has a long history of abusing their user's privacy. So much so that I no longer even take the time to look at anything they are doing because they have no credibility.

RE: What's your take on Brave services ? - Added by ask low 2 months ago

I dunno how they're even whitewashing creators & sponsors claiming Brave as the most privacy friendly project.

Btw you don't need to look into their work btw. They are experimenting very horrendous features onto the users.

My default browser is ungoogled chromium / firefox (withiut mozilla account) so thought of trying brave (which ain't gonna happen).

RE: What's your take on Brave services ? - Added by Soren Stoutner 2 months ago

I would assume that everyone who is promoting Brave is being paid to do so.

RE: What's your take on Brave services ? - Added by martin2020 martin2020 about 2 months ago

Compared to alternatives, I have had a relatively good experience with Brave browser and Brave search engine. Neither have been great, but probably as good or better than alternatives.

Overall, I think most internet hate for Brave is due to Brendan Eich's social views, rather than his chops as a technologist and privacy supporter. It is interesting the above comment says, "you don't need to look into their work, btw". That is a very normal assessment of Brave that you will find on the internet. People say Brave is bad, not based on any facts about Brave, but because they hate Eich. Eich's views outside of technology do not influence my opinion of his technology work, so I try to base my opinion on Brave itself, rather than Eich's opinions.

privacy aspects of Brave browser:
- builtin tor browsing is nice, including --tor commandline option to start Brave with tor.
- Brave seems to have a less engulfing business relationship with Google than Mozilla does.
- Easy menu options for disabling cookies and javascript, which Firefox has obfuscated.
- Easy option for spoofing user agent.
- CON: switching back and forth between "no cookies, no javascript" and "works with most sites" versions is not particularly convenient. I miss PrivacyBrowser's easy button when I use Brave!
- Summary opinion: Brave browser is okay, and it is good to have it as a tool in the toolbox, together with w3m, Emacs Web Wowser, Tor Browser, PrivacyBrowser, and IceCat. It has some advantages and disadvantages compared with these, but does not stand out as a clear winner.

privacy aspects of Brave Search:
- Decent, but not great, search results. Better than Metager or Mojeek, for example. Worse than Google or Startpage. Very comparable, but probably slightly worse, than Duckduckgo.
- Works THE BEST of any search engine with terminal browsers such as w3m and Emacs Web Wowser. Duckduckgo's lite version (https://lite.duckduckgo.com/lite) works okay, but sometimes all the links are replaced with tracking links! Brave has never done such a thing, in my experience.
- Provides a .onion site!
- Independent crawling! As far as I know, only Google, Bing, Mojeek, and Brave advertise this feature.
- Summary opinion: Brave search, although imperfect, is probably the best search engine available in terms of privacy protection, perhaps followed closely by Metager. I would say Brave search is superior because it works well with terminal browsers, such as w3m and Emacs Web Wowser. This allows a lockdown mode, e.g. w3m with cookies disabled together with torsocks to browse with tor. Mojeek is worse than Brave because it does not provide a .onion and does not work reliably via tor. Also, Mojeek is inconvenient to use with terminal browsers. Startpage hardly works at all via tor, so it is not a serious option for privacy, in my mind.

RE: What's your take on Brave services ? - Added by Soren Stoutner about 2 months ago

I don't know anything about Brendan Eich's social views, so I can guarantee that those do not factor into my opinion of Brave. Rather, my concerns are all about his track record.

Brendan Eich is the creator of JavaScript. Before you go any further, think deeply about the significant of that previous sentence. Brendan Eich created the single greatest threat to your privacy on the internet.

I don't believe that he intended to create the privacy monster that JavaScript has ended up becoming. Rather, I think he saw the shiny possibilities that JavaScript presented and didn't take enough time to think through the privacy implications. Everything I have seen about Brave indicates to me that he hasn't changed in that regard. He is chasing the cool new features and hasn't stopped long enough to think about what the privacy and security implications are. For him, privacy and security is always a bolt-on afterward, not the core of the product.

You can see this when he started Brave. It was not initially a privacy-focused browser. Rather, he was trying to design a new browser that would make him money in a way that other browsers didn't. Their main idea was to track users more, not less. The idea was that he would remove all the ads from web pages and inject his own ads. He would track everything the users were doing and then provide a portion of the ad revenue to them in a form of cryptocurrency. He would make lots of money (instead of the web pages). The users would make a little bit of money. Their privacy would be completely violated. And everyone would be happy.

Unsurprisingly, this idea didn't end up having legs (although, amazingly, a version of it still exists as described at https://support.brave.com/hc/en-us/articles/360026361072-Brave-Ads-FAQ). However, even though Brave went a different direction, I have a hard time trusting anyone who ever though that was going to be a good idea. Not being able to immediately see why that wasn't smart is similar to not being able to see why running arbitrary code from the internet (JavaScript) is a bad idea.

Eventually, Eich realized he needed a new business model. This was around the time that everyone was suddenly becoming a Privacy Company (even Facebook started advertising about how private they were). So, Brave switched from a we-will-show-you-extra-ads-and-track-everything-you-do company to a we-are-your-privacy-saviors company.

There is a lot of money to be made in pretending to sell privacy.

And Brave might be slightly better than Google or Mozilla in some regards. But unless they start doing real things to protect your privacy I'm not really interested in looking deeply into their products.

RE: What's your take on Brave services ? - Added by Soren Stoutner about 2 months ago

An example of a separate issue from those listed above:

https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/8/21283769/brave-browser-affiliate-links-crypto-privacy-ceo-apology

Anyone who could consider leveraging their browser to add affiliate links to URLs so that the browser maker gets money has crossed the line so far that it is very unlikely that I would ever trust them again. That isn't an innocent mistake. That is deliberate, and involves ethical failures at multiple levels.

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