The crypto-friendly web browser Brave, which was funded through an ICO and founded by Mozilla Foundation pioneer Brendan Eich, has filed two shots at once against its much bigger and well-entrenched rival Google. The first shot is a GDPR violation complaint, while the other is to dump the search engine from the default setting of its browser. In short, an upstart is taking on a well-established player, which is precisely what crypto industry has been doing with the legacy finance industry.
The news was first broken by Reuters. According to their report Brave browser, which blocks privacy-infringing and obtrusive advertisements by default, filed two separate GDPR violation complaints against Google in Britain and Ireland. What company wants to do is trigger some provisions that can lead to an EU-wide inquiry into data policies of Google. The complaint argues that Google’s practice of “real-time bidding” for personalized advertisements exposes much more user data than allowed in GDPR. It says:
“There is a massive and systematic data breach at the heart of the behavioral advertising industry. Despite the two-year lead-in period before the GDPR, adtech companies have failed to comply.”
Now, if an investigation finds Brave’s allegations to be true, the consequences can be drastic for Google. The company may not only be forced to pay up to 4% of its global revenue in fines but also be forced to change its data-driven business model. There’s only one problem though: it’s not so easy to force Google and get something done.
The company has already claimed that its policies secure user data sufficiently enough according to GDPR policies, and its data storage policies have been vetted by European regulators. In a statement company said:
“We build privacy and security into all our products from the very earliest stages and are committed to complying with the EU General Data Protection Regulation. We provide users with meaningful data transparency and controls across all the services that we provide in the EU, including for personalized advertising.”
The second thing that Brave browser has done against Google is to drop it as the default search engine in France and Germany. According to CNET, the default search provider for Brave browser in these countries is now set to Qwant. It’s a privacy-focused search engine that doesn’t track user activity. But as a result, this search engine can also not personalize results like Google does. Speaking about it Brave executives told CNET:
“The overriding commercial incentive for many ad tech companies is to share as much data with as many partners as possible. This is a ‘clean tech’ moment, and ad tech is fighting it the same way that Detroit fought the electric car. It is time to move on.”
Only time will tell how successful Brave browser remains in this fight against Google. In past, Microsoft has also fought on similar fronts against the search giant, but the outcome has only been failure. But as Elon Musk said, if something is important enough… you should try. Even if the probable outcome is failure.