On 5th March, Brave released its new privacy updates in its official blog post. The Privacy-oriented blockchain web browser now protects users from being fingerprinted by making it subtly different to each website.
Fingerprinting or device fingerprinting is a technique used by advertisement companies to categorize and identify people who have interacted with their advertisements earlier.
For instance, if you look up for an Apple product on your laptop, you might receive similar ads related to it on your device. This is done by advertisers when they use the fingerprint of the publicly available characteristics of your device which includes device details, location, and the data that’s relevant to the advertisers.
To battle the stalking, and keeping advertisers from pestering their audience Brave browser has come up with an approach that differs from existing fingerprinting protection tools.
Brave randomizes “finger printable values” in ways that are “imperceptible to humans”, but which “confuse fingerprints”.
“As trackers switch from traditional cookie-based tracking to fingerprinting, having practical and effective fingerprinting protections will be an increasingly important way of maintaining a user serving, privacy-respecting Web.” – Brave
Brave in its blog explains how Web tracking is transitioning from cookies to fingerprints and most web browsers have not taken enough measures to defend fingerprinting-based targetting.
While other privacy-preserving tools like Safari’s “Intelligent Tracking Protection“, or Firefox’s “Enhanced Tracking Protection” place restrictions on cookies, they are “less stringent than Brave”.
Quick experiment for users
Users can even check out the Brave’s privacy defense work by visiting a fingerprinting demonstration site. To get a demo of how fingerprinting identifies its users across multiple sessions, follow the steps mentioned below in any other mainstream browser such as G-chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.
- Visit https://fingerprintjs.com/demo
- Note the assigned fingerprint
- Reload the browser after clearing storage, either by deleting all browser data or opening a new private window
- Note the same fingerprint is assigned, despite all storage, cookies, etc being cleared.
Once this is done, the user can perform the same steps in Brave nightly. A few things one will observe:
- A different fingerprint value of each website
- Fingerprints cannot be utilized to link the different visits
- Privacy protection due to randomization
The whole point of increasing privacy is for users to feel safe.
It is important to note that the new device fingerprint features has been deployed on Brave Nightly – testing & development version of Brave. The browser will add subtle randomization to some fingerprint endpoints rather than removing or modifying browser differences.