Introduction to Decentralized Web Browsers

Central governments are clamping down on end-to-end encryption and ramping up surveillance efforts. Whether or not these infringements on data privacy and security are set to last only during the recent market upheavals and Coronavirus remains unclear. But in the background, blockchain-based products and services, such as decentralized web browsers, continue to evolve, giving users worldwide an opt-out of the perilous direction of insecure data. 

Web browsers that are emerging as viable alternatives use cutting edge technologies that are often a step ahead of regulating agencies. But they are not being created to protect criminals, as mainstream media might lead you to believe. Instead, decentralized web browsers have been building a suite of online services that protect a person’s browsing and transacting data.

Below, you’ll find a detailed description of three different decentralized web browsers to learn their product offering and see if maybe it’s time to make the switch.

Opera Web Browser

Opera has been innovating in the web browser arena since 1994. In fact, they were the first to integrate Google search into their browser. Their innovative approach continues today. The Opera Browser now offers four major technological solutions for data privacy and security:

  1. Browsing security is foremost with Opera; it’s their mission to provide private browsing that keeps you safe from data mining or theft. They offer multiple tools like tracking blockers, which inhibit programmatic trackers from mining and using your data as you browse the Internet. An added benefit to these trackers is a decreased data load on your device, which also contributes to security. 
  2. With the latest announcement that Opera would enable its users to browse .crypto decentralized web pages, the browser officially invited distributed networks to their product offering. Not only that, but this also allows for uncensored cryptocurrency transactions within the browser. 
  3. Opera is also developing another first-of-its-kind – an in-app, private messaging service, restoring the option to have uncensored messages should governments succeed in banning end-to-end encryption.

Web Browsing on Brave

Brave is a very popular web browser within the crypto community. You’ll often hear influencers encouraging their audience to view their content from the safety of the Brave browser. Their eagerness is mainly due to Brave’s unique, privacy-focused setup. But it’s also because it’s a crypto-based browser ecosystem that pays out your favorite creators in a crypto token. 

When browsing the Internet using Brave, all the attention you spend on websites is tallied in a private way. Then, it’s used to determine payouts in Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) to all the sites you visited – directly proportional to how much time you spent at each site.

Other features include:

  • You also directly tip your favorite online content creators in BAT tokens.
  • While ads are blocked by default, you can choose to view ads (of your choice) and earn part of the ad revenue, in BAT tokens. The ads show up separately from your favorite content so as to enhance the browsing experience.
  • At all times, your personal data is completely anonymous and private.

Brave is built using the same Chromium web browser used by Chrome. Its founder, Brendan Eich, was also the creator of JavaScript and Co-Founder of the Mozilla project. As you would expect, the browser comes with its own, built-in wallet for store BAT earnings.

Unstoppable Browser

Unstoppable Domains, a blockchain project backed by Tim Draper, has rolled out its decentralized web browser, called Unstoppable Browser. As a valuable addition to their initiative to build a new Internet, the browser creates a way for users to interact with the decentralized web. 

When users download the browser extension, they can view a completely different system of website domains and websites. Instead of the https:// address in the web browser search bar, you’ll see a long blockchain-based address, something like this:  

https://abbfe6z95qov3d40hf6j30g7auo7afhp.mypinata.cloud/ipfs/QmXzF8gHc7aYak2wdJowSRM82EFzWUsH6gLtUXrPZF81YE

If you click on that link above, you’ll be surprised to find one of cryptocurrency’s most influential content creators! Having this web address simply means that this .crypto domain (instead of .com) is built on the blockchain. Websites built on the decentralized web using .crypto and other blockchain domains can only be built by the owner. But more importantly, they can never be taken down by others or censored in any way. The Unstoppable team is on a mission to bring back free speech, making the Internet truly open and available to all.   

The Unstoppable Browser allows you to browse this new Internet in a safe and private manner. You download the Unstoppable Browser extension to connect to the decentralized Internet, which is a new Internet built on the Ethereum Blockchain (to be compatible with other blockchains as well).

For the crypto industry, which has been plagued with bans and channel takedowns from mainstream platforms, this unique web browser brings us all one step closer to an uncensored Internet.

Can traditional web browsers compete?

In addition to decentralized browsers like Opera, Brave and Untoppable Browser, other traditional services have been evolving to make the browsing experience more secure for users. Peter Danihel, Co-Founder of HedgeTrade, explains how by enabling complete privacy, some browsers may offer a less than optimal experience. In some cases, a traditional browser may be better:

“When first installed, Firefox is definitely not configured for privacy. However, it can be personalized and hardened in the settings to a point where you are heavily protected. There is a fine line, though, between privacy and convenience. Enabling all privacy features can lead to a very basic browsing experience.”

While the construction of the decentralized Internet continues, browser extensions will likely become more adaptable. They also will be more reflective of our society’s need to have secure browsers that are also optimized. It may come from the decentralized web, where distributed blockchain networks help to better secure the application. But the industry needs more time to build up. It may also come from existing popular browsers like Firefox, who will adapt to the growing need to protect and secure our personal data.

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