The Next Step Toward a Decentralized Web


Brave has announced the addition of InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) support to its web browser, a peer-to-peer (P2P) networking protocol that represents a big step toward the decentralization of the web.

The company has been focusing its efforts in integrating IPFS support to its privacy-focused web browser in collaboration with Protocol Labs, a protocol that will not only make the web faster and safer but more open too by enabling decentralization.

A Brave Update Months in the Making

The integration has already been made available with the update to version 1.19, which will allow Brave’s more than 24 million users to directly access ipfs:// URLs by installing a node with a single click or through the use of a gateway.

IPFS Support in Brave
IPFS Support in Brave

The use of the IPFS protocol was released by Procol Labs back in September of 2020 to increase the availability of content, reducing server costs, and improve the resilience of the internet to censorship and disruptions.

The update comes at a time when netizens around the world have started paying attention to privacy and censorship concerns due to recent developments like WhatsApp’s privacy policy changes and the mass banning of accounts by social media platforms.

IPFS: A New Way to Distribute content

IPFS is a P2P hypermedia protocol developed as an alternative to the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) protocol commonly used by most websites.

WhileHTTP can only download data from one source at a time, IPFS will download it from multiple sources simultaneously, saving bandwidth and dramatically improving the distribution of data without causing duplication.

One of the biggest pitfalls of the modern web is the loss of data that can result from centralization, with thousands of websites disappearing each day and causing their information to be lost. While projects such as the Wayback machine have emerged to preserve such sites, these efforts are not enough.

By decentralizing the web, IPFS aims to preserve humanity’s web beyond its current average lifespan and opening it to everyone by preventing censorship and regulation which could limit its access.

Brave CTO and Co-Founder, Brian Bondy, refereed to the integration of IPFS by saying:

“We’re thrilled to be the first browser to offer a native IPFS integration with today’s Brave desktop browser release. Providing Brave’s 1 million+ verified content creators with the power to seamlessly serve content to millions of new users across the globe via a new and secure protocol, IPFS gives users a solution to the problem of centralized servers creating a central point of failure for content access. IPFS’s innovative content addressing uses Content Identifiers (CIDs) to form an address based on the content itself as opposed to locating data based on the address of a server. Integrating the IPFS open-source network is a key milestone in making the Web more transparent, decentralized, and resilient.”

What is IPFS
What is IPFS? Interplanetary File System: Complete Beginner’s Guide

The Transition Towards a Decentralized Web

The decentralization of the web is not a new concept as it has been called the Web 3.0, with privacy-web browsers such as TOR already working in this way with their own protocols like onion routing.

Such efforts have been promoted and defended by those who support neutrality and free access to the web, as well as freedom of speech.

Molly Mackinlay, Project Lead at IPFS, said in a statement:

“Bringing the benefits of the dWeb to Brave users, IPFS’ efforts to remove systemic data censorship by corporations and nation-states are now strengthened through the integration with Brave. 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.”

While there is still a long way to go before we see mass adoption of a decentralized web, Brave’s step will facilitate the transition by providing its users with a glimpse of what a decentralized web would look like at a time when privacy is becoming paramount.

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