Recent Nightly versions of Brave Browser support a new privacy feature that Brave calls Unlinkable Bouncing. It is designed to protect better against bounce tracking, a technique that sites use to bypass a browser’s privacy protections.
Modern web browsers may block certain tracking techniques outright or when the user configures the browser in a specific way. Some tracking options dry up when that happens, and some advertisers developed new tracking methods that bypass protections.
Bounce tracking is designed to circumvent context restrictions. In classic scenarios, sites would run advertising and tracking scripts that would be used to track users and increase advertising revenue. With scripts blocked, another option needed to be found. Bounce tracking uses redirects that are invisible to the user eye to bring advertising sites into the right context.
Brave introduced several protections against bounce tracking in its browser in previous years. In 2021, Brave integrated warnings for users who have enabled aggressive tracking protection in the browser, and a new feature that it called Debouncing. The feature skips known bounce tracking URLs to load the destination site directly.
Current stable versions of Brave may protect the user in the following ways against bounce tracking:
- Known tracking parameters are removed from URLs.
- Debouncing attempts to skip known bounce tracking URLs to load the destination immediately.
- With aggressive blocking enabled, Brave warns users when a suspected bounce tracking URL is about to be loaded.
Unlinkable Bouncing is a complementary feature according to Brave that makes bounce tracking less effective through the use of temporary storage. Basically, what the new technique does is create temporary DOM storage for the site that is used for bounce tracking. The storage is removed automatically once the site is no longer open, and that means that it can’t identify the user anymore on the next (bounce tracking) visit.
Unlinkable Bouncing introduces first-party ephemeral storage in Brave Browser. First-party ephemeral storage complements the already used ephemeral third-party storage feature of the browser. The latter clears third-party data automatically when the first-party site is exited that loaded these third-party scripts. First-party ephemeral storage protects users against data that first-party sites may store in the browser for tracking purposes.
First-party ephemeral storage takes things one step further, and prevents the first-party site from re-identifying you: sites will be able to remember you across visits only if you want them to. This brings about a total shift in the Web’s default behavior: to date, browsers have assumed users want every site to remember them unless the user takes some explicit step against that remembering. Instead, Brave is working toward forgetfulness (and thus privacy) by default.
Unlinkable Bouncing is available in Brave Nightly already. Brave plans to launch it in the upcoming Brave Stable 1.37 release.
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