Brave Browser with Jonathan Sampson

Online advertising enables free content and services of the Internet. One of the free services that is powered by advertising is the browser. 60% of web browsing is done through Chrome, which is owned by Google, which is powered by advertising.

The application that most of us use to explore the web is made by a company that relies on ads, so it is unsurprising that the default of that browser is to allow close tracking of user behavior. When you hit a website, a variety of trackers are logging your data for the purpose of serving you better ads.

Some people don’t like ads, and they don’t like being tracked–but what is the alternative? How else can we get all the content we want? Since the 90’s, engineers have envisioned an Internet powered by micropayments. A micropayments system in your browser would allow users to pay for content with money instead of adtech.

Brave is a web browser built with a modern view of advertising, privacy, and economics. Brave users can pay for content with their money OR by paying attention to ads. This system is formalized through the Basic Attention Token (BAT), a cryptocurrency that can be used to purchase user attention.

Jonathan Sampson is a senior developer relations specialist with Brave Software. He joins the show to talk about the problems with the browsing experience and what Brave is doing to stop it.

If you like this episode, we have done many other shows about privacy, with guests like Bruce Schneier and Samy Kamkar. Download the Software Engineering Daily app for iOS to hear all of our old episodes, and easily discover new topics that might interest you. You can upvote the episodes you like and get recommendations based on your listening history. With 600 episodes, it is hard to find the episodes that appeal to you, and we hope the app helps with that.


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  • Didier Hoarau


    Interesting episode.

    I really like the concept of giving money to website that I like/visit. I have a few questions that I would have liked to be addressed here (specicifally on the Basic Attention Token):

    – A website owner might receive a BAT… but a BAT is useless until I exchange it to real currency. The other main crypto-currencies have similar issues but at least using Bitcoin/Etherium would have been a little more useful for the receipient. Isn’t the choice of BAT instead of Bitcoin a little conter-productive? (a related question has been asked but I was disapointed by the lack of answer)
    – The solution proposed here is to switch to a specific browser. At least as a future plan they should talk about the idea of porting this mechanism to other browsers.

    The way I feel about this is that it’s a little paradoxical: the web is open so the right solution should not be creating new specific tools. We should target interoperability. (even if it’s based on open source technologies… it’s too specific IMHO)

    I would totally understand that the current implementation is a first step… but I think interoperability should be discussed or should be in the roadmap (I confess that I didn’t go to their website to check the roadmap).

    One more question that I don’t thing was discussed: how can website creators join the program? I guess BAT won’t be sent to everyone. I suppose we have to subscribe and/or add some tags to our websites, right?

    Thank you for the podcast. I really enjoy it.

    • Chris McGee

      I agree!
      However, keep in mind BAT is implemented on ethereum and there are many projects working towards decentralizing inter-currency exchange with smart contracts/etc. IMO converting BAT to ETH or some other token is quickly becoming a trivial issue.
      Also, did you hear the piratebay implemented a script that mines Monero with your CPU? This is another way to substitute ads with cryptocurrency, and is already being argued as a more practical idea than BAT.

      • Didier Hoarau

        Hi Chris, I didn’t know about the inter-currency exchange. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely check this out.

        I also did not ear about Pirate Bay’s mining… But I’m not sure I would really trust them 🙂

        • Chris McGee

          Yep, check out projects like Ark (smart bridge) and Bancor.

          Hahah yes, the pirate bay was secretly mining with peoples CPU’s to make money without having to show ads. They did this without telling the visitors, but implementing that idea in a legal, moral way could be very practical in my opinion. Instead of benefiting the website by watching ads, you just dontate some CPU power while you’re browsing

    • Jeff Meyerson

      Hey Didier,

      I don’t know the answer to these questions, but they are good ones!