Law in the Internet Society
It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

So, How "Brave" Are You?

-- By MotazArshied - 04 Dec 2019

A Confession – Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned

After briefing through most of the first essays of my peers, I feel a sense of companionship. Accordingly, I decided to start my second essay with a deeply personal frustration of mine: I feel that no matter how hard I will work in my life, I’ll never work as hard as my father did. In some sense, this feeling haunted me through this course and with every time professor Moglen punched-line one of his points I felt how I will never be able to accomplish the freedom he describes. I imagined a level of dedication so enormous that my compromising, procrastinating and narrow shoulders cannot carry. So, I did what I do best: suppressing.

The Path to Braveness

A few weeks ago, I attended a guest lecture given by Ms. Tongtong Gong, a technology executive and COO of Amberdata Inc., a crypto-currency data and software company. At the Q&A part, my suppressing mechanism momentarily seized control and I asked Ms. Gong about the privacy risks that are relevant to crypto currency and her company’s services. As our conversation developed, she directed me to a blockchain-enabled project called Basic Attention Token (BAT).

However, before discussing BAT, we need to address the rather new browser it is connected to: Brave. Brave is a browser created by Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript? and co-founder of Mozilla and Firefox browsers. Brave runs on the same engine as Google Chrome – Chromium, which makes the transition to it fairly easy, especially for a chrome addict like myself. However, it stripped Google’s-specific code out of it and produced a surfing experience which keeps personal data from getting out, and outside data from getting in.

According to Eich, he created Brave in order to render us a “better internet”, with improved power, speed, security and privacy by blocking trackers. On paper, Brave is a browser for the “free internet” advocates, with minimum tracking (thanks to Brave Shields that block trackers), with no collection of personal data (with the exception of safe browsing and prediction services, which can be disabled) and with an interesting extra-touch of BAT, as an incitement for a user to get the ads she/he actually desires while being paid for it in crypto currency.

BAT-Ads: Not the Hero We Deserve, But the Hero We Need

So far, Brave sounds like a great deal. But here’s its real perk: Brave acknowledge the reality of websites making revenue out of ads but unlike other browsers, Brave balances this reality with user privacy principles by offering its users to opt-in into Brave Rewards. In sum, Brave replaces ads on its website with ads of its own, calling them “privacy-respecting ads”. If you engage with these ads, their publisher will not earn revenue, but you will earn Brave’s BAT, a cryptocurrency which you later turn into real money. You could imagine Brave is not the advertiser’s favorite browser, but from our point of view as users, it seems to be the best browser we can use in the surveillance era we live in.

Good Enough Privacy?

Brave has introduced an interesting initiative against malicious browser ads and proposed a solution that some users can deem as “fair”. But what about privacy issues such as anonymity? In that respect, Brave offers two options: First, the regular incognito mode that we are all familiar with, however this mode does not prevent our network administrator, the websites we visit and our ISP from access to our data. The second option is a private mode that uses TOR, which supposedly increases security layers and protects our data and privacy. With that being said, Brave itself notifies the users that for absolute anonymity, one should switch completely to a TOR browser.

What is the Right Price?

All of the above begs the question: what is the right price for our privacy? In other words, what is the BAT amount that we will be willing to settle for? Clearly, many users accept Brave’s offer. The most profound evidence for this conclusion is the fact that since its 1.0 launch on November 13th this year, Brave already has over 10 million users. However, I do not believe that the BAT offer is the decisive factor in this phenomenon for I have been browsing in Brave for the last week and I find it extremely user friendly. Additionally, with the information I have in mind about the nature of the browser, I feel substantially safer in Brave than browsing elsewhere.

After everything that we have been taught throughout this course, I felt that this technological expedition is an obligation of me to myself, as part of my own self-care. We live in a mad, MAD world nowadays and it is obvious that Brave’s initiative is not a cure to madness, but it is a concentrated, experimental dose against one of madness’s symptoms. Now, more than ever, it is safe to say that privacy has lost its seat around the “high priority values table” of this world and naturally, the losers are us, the people. It is reasonable to believe that the majority of our “click here”, “like that” and “swipe this” society will accept the defeat with open mouths and empty, famished bellies. But I am not hungry nor in the mood to be accepted by this crooked society any further. I am aware that switching browsers does not relief me from the slavery I opted-into for an entire decade now, but it is a step and I declare it counts. Turns out all it required was curiosity, attention and some self-investing. Hard work has various faces. The three factors above constituted one of them for me, one which I think will make dad proud.

You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:

Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules for preference declarations. Make sure you preserve the three spaces, asterisk, and extra space at the beginning of these lines. If you wish to give access to any other users simply add them to the comma separated ALLOWTOPICVIEW list.


Webs Webs

r3 - 06 Dec 2019 - 03:18:48 - MotazArshied
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM