Brave rapidly built a reputation for itself as the challenger to conventional, centralized internet service providers. More recently Brave took its latest ambitious step to the support of an entirely decentralized web. How it intends to do this is through offering full native integration with a peer-to-peer networking protocol.
Known more commonly as the Interplanetary File System (or IPFS for short), this protocol sets its sights on fundamentally improving the dominant application layer protocol – HTTP. Along with processing content faster, IPFS also aims to make it easier to access, and more resistant to failure.
The prospect of any protocol dethroning HTTP is an impressive one, but how does it work? TechCrunch offers a concise view of how IPFS works and how it could accomplish all that it claims. To summarize – HTTP was originally designed for browsers to gain access to information stored on central servers. IPFS, however, accesses these same browsers with the use of a network of distributed nodes. While this is similar to obtaining or validating information on the blockchain, you can also liken it to downloading content from a solution like BitTorrent. This is a fundamental difference in how browsers can access information, with little to no difference from the end-user’s perspective.
IPFS offers a range of benefits over HTTP, such as faster speeds, better security, and more resilience to failure; being based upon a distributed network of nodes. One of the more pivotal attributes of IPFS is that web content could be made far more resistant to censorship.
“IPFS gives users a solution to the problem of centralized servers creating a central point of failure for content access,” Brave’s CTO Brian Bondy commented, regarding IPFS, adding that “the power to seamlessly serve content to millions of new users across the globe via a new and secure protocol.”
Brave has been a long-standing supporter of the IPFS protocol, having worked on it since 2018. At the moment, with the launch of version 1.19 of the Brave Browser, it’s 24 million monthly active users will be able to directly access IPFS content by resolving URIs that start with ‘IPFS://’.
Brave users can also choose to install a full IPFS node, making their Browser a contributing node to the P2P network.
Molly Mackinlay, the Project Lead for IPFS, shared the motivation behind the creation and launch of the IPFS protocol, citing that a decentralized web can help users fight back against ‘systemic data censorship’ from government entities and monopolistic Big Tech. Mackinlay said,
“Today, Web users across the world are unable to access restricted content, including, for example, parts of Wikipedia in Thailand, over 100,000 blocked websites in Turkey, and critical access to COVID-19 information in China.”
“Now anyone with an internet connection can access this critical information through IPFS on the Brave browser.”