Working with big data in my day job, I know how much information websites and ad companies can glean from our online interactions.
I thought that I would start 2018 off by trying to take back a little bit of control of my online profile without going to extreme efforts (TOR, bootable OS’s, tinfoil etc).
For the last few years I have been half-assing this by using a VPN (when I could be bothered), doing any online shopping in a private/incognito window and remembering halfway through an obscure Google search that DuckDuckGo still exists.
I can do better.
The first bit of software I installed in 2018 was the Brave browser. This chromium based and open source browser claims it will help you take back some of your privacy, speed up your browsing experience, save you time and money (with reduced data usage) and even protect your devices from nasties on the web (Brave is also available to protect your mobile devices too).
It purports to do this by blocking web trackers and online advertisements by default and from my first couple of days of use, it seems to do it well.
Brave claims that these speeds up page load times on major websites by between 2 to 8 times faster thane Chrome and Safari on mobile and 2 times faster compared to Chrome on desktop.
By far the best part to me is the blocking of trackers by default which is hopefully giving me back some of that sought after privacy.
A few friends have pointed out that I could simply install an Adblocker but these Adblockers (from personal experience) can cause more trouble than they are worth with conflicts and other issues as well as them letting through Advertisements and trackers of certain companies. I will have to see how Brave handles this.
So far with Brave I haven’t noticed any issues browsing the web and Brave claims to have stopped 374 trackers, 158 ads and forced 518 HTTPS upgrades.
I will be interested to see how my I go with Brave as I have admittedly only used it for a few days now. I will be interested to see how this relatively young browser develops and how it tackles the issue of content creators getting paid (since we’re blocking the ads that pay for them).
There is some information on the Brave website about work towards creating a contribution system and blockchain payment system to pay out to content creators and publishers (also a 5% cut to Brave) to compensate them for reduced ad revenue but it still seems to be in its infancy.
For now I am happy to give Brave a go and will report back on how I go.
Oh and to make up for my lazy ways, I’ve set my VPN to start with my computer and DuckDuckGo to be my default search engine. Let’s see how that goes.