Brave brings decentralised web browsing with IPFS support
Brave’s addition of IPFS means that its users will be able to access ‘decentralised’ versions of websites that sit on a network of distributed ‘nodes’ instead of accessing it from one central server.
Brave, a modern web browser that touts a private and secure browsing experience, just added support for InterPlanetary File System (or IPFS) which is a decentralised networking protocol designed to improve the current structure of the internet today.
If you haven’t heard of IPFS, that’s probably because the protocol has not been adopted by a major browser until now. This is because the current de-facto web browser protocol is Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) which relies on two-way traffic between a server, which hosts the data, and a user, who downloads the data.
However, the HTTP protocol is susceptible to censorship, because of the central nature of the server and the computers accessing it. Turn off access to the server and users can no longer address that data. The same applies to a scenario where a server or its internet connection fails, cutting off access to millions of users.
Brave’s addition of IPFS means that its users will be able to access ‘decentralised’ versions of websites that sit on a network of distributed ‘nodes’ instead of accessing it from one central server. If this sounds familiar, it’s because social network alternatives like Diaspora and Mastodon work on a similar principle, as do protocols like BitTorrent and the now-defunct Gnutella network.
This means that blocking websites hosted on the IPFS protocol would become far more difficult than it is today as censorship would involve a more complicated process than blocking a simple URL. It also means that your favourite website could stay online even if the main server went down - you could simply access the content from people in your neighbourhood. It could also have far-reaching implications for the web hosting industry.
The company says that IPFS support for more platforms is coming up next, Android will likely be first in the queue. It will also add support for additional features like DNSLink to allow publishers to use DNS records to point to an IPFS address, website publishing and support for Tor transport, among others.
If you already have version 1.19 of Brave browser installed, you don’t have to do anything to enable IPFS support. Just type in the address that starts with ipfs instead of https and you should be good to go. However, it will likely be a while before mainstream websites properly support the protocol. Meanwhile, you can also install your own IPFS node to join the larger IPFS network.