Brave Browser has just taken a step towards supporting the decentralized network by becoming the first browser to offer native integration with a peer-to-peer networking protocol that aims to fundamentally change the way the internet works.
The technology is called IPFS, and it is a relatively obscure transport protocol that promises to improve the prevailing HTTP standard by making content access faster and more flexible in the face of failure and control. While HTTP is designed for browsers to access information via central servers, IPFS accesses it over a network of distributed nodes.
It’s the same as downloading content via BitTorrent, but not from a central server, where you type in the web address as normal, and the network can find nodes that store the content you want.
Advantages of the new approach include higher speeds because data can be distributed and stored closer to the people who access it, as well as lower server costs for the original content publisher. IPFS has the potential to make web content much more resilient to failures and resist censorship.
Brave Browser, which currently has 24 million monthly active users, was an early supporter of IPFS and has been working on the standard since 2018. Users of Brave version 1.19 can access IPFS content directly, and can also choose to install an entire IPFS node with one click, making their browser a node in a peer-to-peer network.
Brian Bondy, Chief Technology Officer at Brave, said: IPFS gives users a solution to the central servers problem that creates a central failure point for accessing content, adding that this gives Brave users the ability to seamlessly present content to millions of new users via a new and secure protocol.
Molly Mackinlay, IPFS Project Leader, adds that enabling IPFS for a decentralized web could circumvent censorship on data from governments and big tech companies.
The effort to make web content more flexible and unrestricted comes at a time when service owners and platforms face difficult choices about what content should remain online.