Brave browser undercuts transparency by autofilling affiliate links

Brave, the internet browser that appeals to users concerned with privacy, has been autofilling links for affiliates like Coinbase and Binance during crypto service URL searches without gaining consent from users.

“The fact that Brave has put revenue above transparency is problematic,” said Ray Walsh, digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy. “The fact is that Brave can log in to the affiliate panel for the companies it is working with as an affiliate. As a result, both Brave and those firms are privy to some data about users that the firm claimed to be helping to conceal.”

In a series of tweets in which he promised the company would “never revise typed in domains again,” Brave CEO Brendan Eich said the company “made a mistake” that it was correcting. “Brave default autocompletes verbatim '' in address bar to add an affiliate code,” he tweeted.

“We are a Binance affiliate, we refer users via the opt-in trading widget on the new tab page, but autocomplete should not add any code,” explained. “I see mistaken belief that Brave rewrites links in pages. We have never & will not do any such thing.”

Although Eich said that the tracking only identifies the firm and not individual users, "it is likely that many users will feel betrayed,” Walsh noted. “The fact that developers have instantly announced plans for a privacy-focused fork of Brave is a reminder that consumers will keep moving away from services they don't trust, meaning that even small hiccups like the one made by Brave could be damaging to those privacy-focused services.”

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