The Brave Browser Requires Users to Hand Over Full Identification Information Before Receiving Basic Attention Token (BAT) Rewards, Which Is a Complete Affront to Its Anonymity-Oriented Audience

December 25, 2019 / by Zachary Mashiach

The Brave Browser is branded as being a secure, fast, and private web browser. Much of the content on its website discusses how the browser does not collect personal data and, in general, how the browser supports anonymity and privacy.

That said, one of the primary features of the Brave Browser is users’ ability to receive crypto rewards in the form of Basic Attention Token (BAT). Here’s the caveat: In order to receive these rewards, users must hand over all of their personal information to third-party exchange service Uphold, and this is fundamentally opposed to the concept of anonymity, and an affront to the anonymity-oriented target audience of the Brave Browser, as we explain in this article.

One of the main benefits of using the Brave Browser is that it gives users rewards for simply viewing ads in the form of the Basic Attention Token (BAT) cryptocurrency. Apparently, users can earn $60-70 per year, making Brave Browser an interesting new way to earn passive income.

The Brave Browser website claims that it does not send personal data or browsing data to itself or third parties, but rather, the ad matching process uses personal data that is only stored on a user’s device. But this privacy is defeated by the Brave Browser’s know your customer (KYC) process, which is required before a user can actually use any of their Basic Attention Token (BAT) rewards.

Apparently the Brave Browser decided to implement KYC in order to comply with United States money laundering regulations and to prevent bot fraud, where users would create as many accounts as possible in order to farm the Brave Browser’s rewards program.

The KYC process is done through the third-party service Uphold, which is a cryptocurrency exchange based in the United States. The KYC process for the Brave Browser’s rewards program is fully intensive, requiring name, birthday, address, email, phone number, and driver’s license or passport as shown in the below screenshots. 

“What is the point of ‘anonymous’ browsing via Brave if you can’t get your BAT without giving your anonymity away to Uphold?” one Reddit user asked.

The Brave Browser team responded that it has been working for a long time on integrating an Ethereum (ETH) wallet like Metamask in order to give users full control of their private keys and eliminate this anonymity breach. But the team sends a mixed message, saying that United States and international regulations require some sort of identity collection process regardless.

The Brave Browser Team further says that it is dedicated to knowing the minimum about users as well as being dedicated to compliance with the law. Unfortunately, this puts the Brave Browser between a rock and a hard place since the law does not allow anonymous cryptocurrency transactions.

Ultimately, no matter what the Brave Browser says about being anonymous, secure, and private, the full identification information that users must submit to Uphold is a major breach of privacy. Under regulations, the United States government is allowed to view any information that Uphold has regarding Brave Browser users. This perhaps provides an easy way for the United States government to expose numerous crypto and anonymity-oriented individuals.

In other words, the Brave Browser seems like a honeypot that attracts crypto-oriented users with the prospects of passive crypto income and then hands over their identity to the government.

That being said, the Brave Browser probably did not intend for its service to become a honeypot since it seems the Brave Browser was truly founded on the ideals of security, privacy, and anonymity. However, the Brave Browser is a centralized company and therefore has no choice but to comply with government regulations. So in essence, these regulations have defeated the Brave Browser’s original mission while simultaneously scaring away its anonymity-oriented target audience.

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