Brave’s Privacy Browser Exposed For Auto-Adding Affiliate Links to URLs In A Hidden Way
- Brave Browser in the spotlight after a user noticed the privacy-focused browser adds its affiliate links in an autocomplete feature for a number of websites including Binance, Trezor, Coinbase, and Ledger.
- The CEO of Brave, Brendan Eich, has since apologized and the autocomplete feature is now removed.
In a tweet sent out on Saturday, one user made public a “silent scheme” by Brave browser to redirect users to its Binance affiliate links, earning them commissions. The browser added the affiliate link “ref=35089877″ once you type Binance.us website, as an autocomplete feature.
So when you are using the @brave browser and type in "binance[.]us" you end up getting redirected to "binance[.]us/en?ref=35089877" – I see what you did there mates 😂
— Cryptonator1337 (@cryptonator1337) June 6, 2020
As soon as the post went viral, Brendan came forward apologizing for “the mistake” and said the dev team was working to remove this. Eich tweeted a thread on the fiasco stating,
“We made a mistake, we're correcting. […]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.”
According to Eich, the autocomplete default feature arose from the “search query client-id attribution” the same way as Google Chrome and other browsers do. But for Brave, they did have additions of the affiliate links, a move that Brendan promises will not occur any more on the privacy-focused browser. He added,
“Sorry for this mistake — we are clearly not perfect, but we correct course quickly.”
In Brave’s defense, Eich said the affiliate redirect link is the browser’s way of making a “viable business” by offering the user a privacy-focused and client ad-paying platform. He explained,
“What we make on a fixed fee schedule, no browser data in the clear on any of our servers, and so on. But we seek skin-in-game affiliate revenue too.”
However, it is important to note that the affiliate links did not expose any user data – the browser’s affiliate link is the only exposed information. While this is only a first for Brave, some sections of the community are condemning the move as a break of trust to its users.
Recently, it was reported that the Brave browser sees a total of 15 million monthly user visits and 5.3 million daily active users on the platform.