Privacy-Focused Brave Browser Aims to 'Cut Out' Google With De-AMP
The popular crypto-native browser Brave has taken another step toward improving user privacy by announcing the "De-AMP" feature, which would "cut out" Google and enable users to visit publishers' websites directly.
The feature, which is now available in Brave's Nightly and Beta versions and should be enabled by default in the upcoming 1.38 Desktop and Android versions, will "rewrite links and URLs to prevent users from visiting AMP [Accelerated Mobile Pages] pages altogether,” Brave said in a blog post.
“And in cases where that is not possible, Brave will watch as pages are being fetched and redirect users away from AMP pages before the page is even rendered, preventing AMP / Google code from being loaded and executed,” Brave added.
According to Brave, this feature is necessary since Google's AMP is bad for privacy, security, and internet experience. The browser also claims that AMP further helps Google monopolize and control the direction of the Web.
Launched in 2015, AMP was touted as "an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for all." However, the fact that it was proposed by Google and the majority of its contributors are also from Google has raised concerns that it is more of a Google project.
AMP's main promise is to create a cleaner and faster mobile experience for users. In order to achieve this, Google serves pages from its servers. In simple words, when a user clicks on an AMP page, they are served from Google.com while it might seem that they are served from the publisher.
However, many have argued that AMP does not even improve performance. In a disclosure to the DOJ, Google itself acknowledged that “AMP only improves the ‘median of performance’ and AMP pages can actually load slower than other publisher speed optimization techniques.”
There has also been controversy around Google forcing publishers to use AMP. This is particularly true about news websites, whose non-AMP articles were unlikely to appear in the Top Stories carousel on mobile search in Google, according to a 2016 research.
This has even led to a new antitrust lawsuit against Google. A recent version of a December 2020 lawsuit alleges that Google made non-AMP ads load slower and that AMP pages were "specifically designed to make it more difficult for ad space to be auctioned on platforms other than Google’s ad exchange," The Wall Street Journal reported this past February.
Moreover, AMP is also said to be bad for privacy and security as it gives Google a broader view of what pages users view and how they interact with them.
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