Q&A: JavaScript creator Brendan Eich puts Brave face on the Web.

Brendan Eich's latest project involves a browser that automatically blocks ads and trackers, protects user privacy

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InfoWorld: The main reason viewers want to pay is they’re not being tracked -- they don’t have to deal with malvertising. Is that the reason users would be willing to pay a few cents to look at content that they’re now getting for free?

Eich: We’re not sure. That’s why we actually don’t require the user to pay out of the box. We start with an ad-revenue model that will work for most of their sites, then for their top sites they can go ad-free. It’s a hybrid model. Think of it as freemium models where everything is free until you want to convert. We actually give you better than premium. It’s like a superpremium model. The Web as you know it gets faster and more private because we don’t put as many ads back. We put them in late. You know how ads come in early and block all the page from rendering, especially on mobile?

InfoWorld: What type of impact do you expect Brave Software to have in five years?

Eich: Five years is a little far, but I would like to have enough market power to lead the standards bodies toward the next level of better standards for things like anonymous ads where you don’t have any cookie or other identifier for the user, for better privacy in the browser. This third-part referrer block should be a standard; third-party cookie block could be a standard. HTTPS Everywhere could be a standard.

I’d like to have better standards for micropayments. Micropayments is a topic sporadically, but in W3C there’s something called the Payment Request API that’s making progress now. It’s really kind of a compromise trying to let people put the browser in the middle of the payment flows today where you use the credit card or PayPal or maybe use bitcoin. It’s a three-legged stool. It has to involve the browser, the so-called payment provider on PayPal, and the merchant. It’s early yet.

There’s an editor’s draft heading toward first published working draft, but it’s one of those standards that once it’s done, you’re still going to have to wait a while before the browser is actually implemented and hook it up to the big payment providers like Visa, Master Card, PayPal, or Apple Pay. Even then you’re requiring different merchants to commit to a certain payment provider and the user has to sign on with that payment provider.

We want an anonymous payment system. That’s why we do this bitcoin under-the-hood micropay wall in the browser. We don’t think anybody who gets your money should be able to identify you unless you want them to and that’s part of our payment system. We call it Brave Ledger, by the way.

InfoWorld: What else would our readers be interested to know about Brave?

Eich: The thing with us is it’s not only a browser, not only that data set on the edge in your device. What could you do in the long run if we had 100 million users and their data was kept on their devices if that was encrypted? They wouldn’t lose it, but they would have leverage with it. Then they’d have collective bargaining power.

Think of it as a trade group for users, a union for users. What would you do with that power? Right now, users go to a big site because all their friends went to it, like it happened with MySpace, then Facebook. They sign up and get 40 pages of terms of service. They click Yes.

If we had 100 million Brave users, we could actually have our terms of service robot negotiate in a tough way with the network superpower. We want to give the user some power. In a computer network we have choices. Our software can do things like peer-to-peer systems. We can do things like use our fabulous phones and laptops, which have a lot of computing power, to save our data for us, study it, and make it more valuable. That’s what Brave is about. It’s about an upside-down Google, like I said. It’s about the anticloud. It’s about something to balance the central powers.

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