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Brave Software

Brave, the ad-blocking browser in the midst of a major overhaul, once again has an option for private tabs augmented by the Tor Project's technology for keeping websites from tracking you online.

Brave earlier this month launched an overhauled version, Brave Core, that looks a lot more like the Google Chrome browser on whose open-source foundation Brave is built. The new version, though, lacked support for the Tor privacy technology. On Thursday, Brave released the first Brave Core beta and added that Tor technology to the new version.

Brave's incorporation of Tor technology spotlights the increasing assertiveness of browsers to protect us from online prying and spying. Brave blocks ads and ad trackers, Safari's newly upgraded intelligent tracking protection cuts tracking and Mozilla's Firefox will get some tracking blocking as a standard feature.

Tor uses technology called onion routing that separates your computer from the website it's communicating with by sending network traffic through three intermediate servers. That keeps websites from logging anything about you, including your computer's internet address.

However, the Brave Core beta hasn't been fully tested to make sure it doesn't leak information, though, so "so users should not rely on it for serious use yet," Brave said.

The Tor Project offers its own browser based on Mozilla's Firefox.

The Brave Core beta is based on Google Chrome's open-source Chromium underpinnings but makes several changes. One of them is the disabling of the Google account and sync services at the center of privacy concerns that arose this week. It also doesn't include the telemetry services that Google uses to see how people use Chrome.

Brave Payments becomes Brave Rewards

The earlier version of Brave included a system called Brave Payments that let you send crypto-tokens called Basic Attention Tokens to website operators, YouTubers and Twitch video game streamers who could convert the BAT into ordinary money. The Brave Core system renames that Brave Rewards. The approach, though currently funded by promotional BAT that Brave itself grants, can compensate creators somewhat for revenue lost when Brave blocks ads.

Later, Brave Rewards will become the foundation for Brave's technology to show advertisements the browser itself selects, a method the company argues will allow some targeting but won't share your personal data with advertisers, the Brave company or anything else beyond the browser. That'll be an opt-in system, and Brave users will get a share of the ad revenue, too.

The new beta version also includes support for Google's Widevine technology for digital rights management and copy protection, necessary to watch some streaming video, and diverges more in its appearance from ordinary Chrome, Brave said.

Brave Core will exit beta testing and become the company's main release version in October, the company has said. About 4 million people use Brave each month, including mobile versions for Android phones and iPhones.

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