The Weekly BAT + Podcast Ep. 59 — An under the hood look at BAT/Brave Ads (blog), Brave R&D update, EFF’s Panopticlick Fingerprinting test now works for Brave users!

Blog: Under the hood look at BAT/Brave Ads and its ad matching system: “An Introduction to Brave’s In-Browser Ads”

Online advertising has been the engine that powers online content creation for decades. The modern online advertising ecosystem has evolved to optimize for conversions (i.e. clicks and purchases). This practice often leads to persistent and privacy-invasive browsing and behavioral data collection to feed into analytics models, while an individual is browsing seemingly unrelated web sites through an infrastructure of third-party trackers. Over the last decade, users have increasingly pushed back against these privacy-violating practices, both through adoption of products such as Brave that automatically block third-party trackers, and through legislative and regulatory actions such as GDPR and the like. 

However, while it’s possible to suppress tracking, there is plenty of user interest in providing relevant recommendations. As a result, we have seen a number of academic proposals like Privad [1] or Adnostic [2] for privacy-preserving advertising systems. However, Brave Ads was the first system to deploy in production. Introduced in April 2019, Brave Ads provide Brave’s current 18 million  monthly active users [7] the choice to opt into privacy-preserving advertising and to get rewarded for their attention.

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Blog: Brave’s Chief Scientist shares an update on the various cutting-edge topics & tech that Brave’s Research Team is working on to make Brave even better for users

Brave Research is a highly dynamic team of researchers and developers whose goal is to push the envelope when it comes to some of the more adventurous aspects and needs of the Brave browser and the underlying ecosystem. Most people at Brave Research hold a PhD in computer science, although pretty much everyone on the team is very practical and is involved in writing code on a daily basis. The way we think about the mission of Brave Research is two-fold: we are the “special forces” that kick into action whenever there are problems that are both relatively unexplored and also of great value to Brave. Our second mission is to create research output in the form of papers, which we aim to publish at top-tier, highly competitive conference venues. We also closely engage with academia and have PhD-level interns and university professors who work closely with Brave researchers, with a goal of advancing the state-of-the-art, especially when it comes to privacy, security, machine learning on the edge, as well as decentralization. 

Our work covers a broad range of topics, which include machine learning, data privacy and security, performance, and cryptography, to name only a few. A lot of our work tends to be pragmatic and even opportunistic in nature, driven by real-life problems that the browser throws at us. The flow of hard problems is virtually guaranteed given the complexity of the code base as well as the number of previously-unsolved problems that Braves tries to address. 

In this blog post, we cover some of the recent work that has come out in the form of both blog posts and conference publications. One of the goals is to showcase the diversity of topics that we work on, as well as to connect the work we do to some of the features that are appearing in the browser. More details on the research publications can be found here:

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