While Brave browser is the first web browser to integrate IPFS support, and offers an alternative way of using the internet instead of the HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Over Secure Socket Layer) protocol that is currently the norm.
Albeit, IPFS is a relatively obscure transport protocol with promises of improving on the dominant HTTP standard by ensuring faster access to content and more resiliency to failure and control.
Why does IPFS support matter in Brave's Web Browser?
Normally, web users uses URLs (universal resource locators) to access the different sites from centralized servers and you are left with either using HTTP or HTTPS on your browser. Now, the physical proximity to the servers does affect how long it takes to load a page and the amount of bandwidth.
But, IPFS instead of relying on URLs and servers, distributes website related data across a network. And the data can also be accessed with URIs (universal resource identifier), which in simple terms, is akin to how BitTorrent and blockchain function. With every PC or mobile device known as “nodes” and temporarily stores a piece of a website’s data, meaning that whenever a user accesses a website via IPFS, it loads data from any nearby nodes on the network.
The obvious advantages of the new approach include faster speed as data is distributed and stored closer to the users who are accessing the information, as well as lower costs of server for the original publisher of the content. And most importantly, IPFS has the potential to make content more resilient to failures and censorship.
As a user, you can also choose to not be a node and access IPFS content through public gateway, though the public gateways can view and log your IP address.
Some Privacy concerns in Brave’s IPFS network
There are privacy concerns in Brave’s IPFS network, whether you’re a local node or simply loading IPFS content. If you’re a node, Brave gives you a unique ID, which ID though hashed, is still viewable by other users to see what you are hosting and accessing. Your PC and network’s resources will also be used when another user accesses the IPFS data you’re hosting.
And even if you choose to not be a node and simply access IPFS content via a public gateway, the public gateways can still view and log your IP address. But, Brave for now uses IPFS alongside HTTP/HTTPS, so it will affect only the content that’s configured for IPFS hosting.