The ad-blocking web browser Brave introduced a new feature in which private tabs use the anonymity software Tor to provide users with “enhanced privacy protection,” the company announced Thursday.
Brave’s new private tabs feature, currently in beta, follows the beginnings of an effort from Mozilla to accomplish a similar goal in its Firefox browser.
Launched in 2016, Brave itself is a niche open-source browser with ambitious and sometimes unique goals, including blocking ads while still paying content creators directly from users themselves.
The new Brave feature can be activated now by downloading the software, clicking the file menu and then clicking New Private Tab with Tor. “Normal” private tabs that don’t employ Tor are still available. Here’s a video of the new feature in beta:
“Private Tabs with Tor help protect Brave users from ISPs (Internet Service Providers), guest Wi-Fi providers, and visited sites that may be watching their Internet connection or even tracking and collecting IP addresses, a device’s Internet identifier,” the browser’s developers blogged on Thursday. “Private Tabs with Tor improve user privacy in several ways. It makes it more difficult for anyone in the path of the user’s Internet connection (ISPs, employers, or guest Wi-Fi providers such as coffee shops or hotels) to track which websites a user visits. Also, web destinations can no longer easily identify or track a user arriving via Brave’s Private Tabs with Tor by means of their IP address.”
The new Tor-powered private tabs comes closer to the popular idea of what private browsing really ought to be. The fact, however, is that in most browsers, “private” tabs delete some information on a user’s computer but do nothing to maintain privacy from the internet. Tor, on the other hand, is designed to effectively anonymize a user.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about what protections Private Browsing Modes or Incognito Modes provide,” a Tor spokesperson tweeted, “so it is good to see more mainstream browsers taking an interest in trying to meet people’s privacy expectations.”