The privacy-focused Brave web browser has recently dumped Google in France and Germany over concerns that the search engine was sharing user data with third-party companies for the purpose of personalizing advertisements. Brave has also filed a formal complaint against Google in Europe, alleging that Google's advertising practices violate the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The complaint includes a 32-page technical report which details the full extent of Google’s privacy violations. These violations deal mostly with a process called real-time bidding (RTB), where advertisers can bid for user data to find the best place to send targeted ads.
Brave chief executive, Brendan Eich, issued a statement on Thursday, announcing that the European-based search engine "Qwant" will be replacing Google in France and Germany:
With the ongoing privacy invasions from technology giants that make a living by exploiting user data, people need tools to fight back and take a stand to protect themselves
According to the "About Us" section on the Quant home page, privacy is their primary concern:
We strongly believe that what you search on the Web is an important part of your privacy. Therefore Qwant never records your searches and never uses your personal data for advertising or other purposes
Google has responded to the complaint by denying the allegations, saying that:
We build privacy and security into all our products from the very earliest stages and are committed to complying with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
If Google is found guilty, they could face fines of up to €20 million or even a percentage of their global revenue.
In addition to filing a complaint against Google and switching search engines, Brave is also hoping to revolutionize the online advertising industry.
Johnny Ryan, Brave's chief policy and industry relations officer, explained that it is possible to show people targeted advertisements without exposing their private data.
"There is a massive and systematic data breach at the heart of the behavioral advertising industry. Ads can be useful and relevant without broadcasting intimate personal data," Ryan told Cnet.
Ryan seemed to be alluding to a project that Brave has been working on called Gemini. Gemini is reportedly an ad system that will keep the user's data within the browser, so that the information can be used to personalize ads. This process does not require Brave to broadcast user information to advertisers and publishers.
In June, Brave announced that the Gemini platform would also pay users who view ads, using the Basic Attention Token (BAT).
The announcement explained the Gemini system in more detail:
By moving matching from the ad exchange to the device, Brave ads merge innovation with privacy-by-design and put the user in control. Instead of sending and exposing user data to opaque third parties in cloud-based auctions, Brave’s approach enables a more efficient and direct opportunity to access user attention without the inherent liabilities and risks involved with large scale user data collection.Brave pushes ad catalogs (one per region and natural language) to available devices on a recurring basis. Downloading a catalog does not identify any user. As the user browses, Brave locally matches the best available ad from the catalog to display that ad at the appropriate time. Brave ads are opt-in and consent-based (disabled by default), and engineered to operate without leaking the user’s personal data from their device.
According to the BAT roadmap, Gemini is expected to release by winter of 2018.