The dream of the ‘Decentralized Internet’ is inching closer to reality. Brave Browser, the lesser-known but quite popular web browser for multiple platforms, has announced complete integration of IPFS protocol. Incidentally, Browser Browser is based on Google’s Chromium base.
IPFS or InterPlanetary File System, just like Brave Browser, is a lesser-known data transport protocol. Frankly speaking, IPFS is insignificant in comparison to the mainstream HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).
Why ditch HTTPS in favor of IPFS?
IPFS is way too small to combat HTTP or HTTPS, let alone topple the dominant transport protocol. However, it can decentralize the Internet. As an added bonus, a widely distributed internet is highly resilient to breakdowns and shields Internet users from excessive censorship.
Back when the Internet was in its infancy, the HTTP protocol was the logical solution to deliver content from servers to end-users across the world. Although the actual functioning is quite complex, the HTTP protocol essentially picks up information from a central cluster of servers and delivers the same to the end-user.
— IPFS (@IPFS) January 19, 2021
The IPFS is quite different in operation. While HTTP accesses information on central servers, IPFS accesses it on a network of distributed nodes. It could be compared to the Torrent platform today. Torrent platforms rely on computers across the world, instead of servers, to host and deliver the information.
If an internet user is accessing information using the IPFS transport protocol, then the network will seek and find multiple “nodes” that have the desired content. The IPFS protocol will then pool or pull information from these distributed nodes, instead of a central server, and deliver the same to the end-user.
— w0ts0n (@w0ts0n) January 19, 2021
Needless to mention, as nodes could be a lot closer to the end-user, data delivery would be faster. Moreover, the companies that offer the original content, platform, internet-based service, would have to spend less on servers.
The biggest advantages, however, of the IPFS platform are user privacy and resilience to failure. Data housed on central servers can become temporarily inaccessible. IPFS can significantly mitigate such risks. In addition to avoiding a central point of failure for content access, the IPFS transport protocol is a lot more resistant to regional censorship from governments and Big Tech.
Brave Browser takes first steps in support of the IPFS transport protocol:
Brave Browser has 24 million Monthly Active Users (MAU). It is nowhere in the league of Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. However, it has been an early supporter of IPFS, working on the standard since 2018.
Starting with the latest update to the Brave Browser, users can access the IPFS content directly. As opposed to entering “HTTP://” as the prefix, users will have to enter “IPFS://”.
— 𝔓𝔦𝔬𝔱𝔯 𝔇𝔶𝔟𝔦𝔢𝔠 (@pidybi) January 19, 2021
In addition to the inbuilt IPFS resolver, Brave Browser v1.19 and later users also have the option to install a “full IPFS node in one click.” Doing so would essentially make the browser a node in the peer-to-peer network.
While Brave Browser and the IPFS transport protocol is looking to remove limitations of censorship, Big Tech is facing increasing scrutiny. Many large social media giants are battling with several content creators about what is worthy of being posted.