Brave becomes first browser to add native support for the IPFS protocol

Brave users will now be able to seamlessly access ipfs:// links.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor
Image via Brave

With the release of Brave 1.19 today, Brave has become the first major browser maker to support IPFS, a peer-to-peer protocol meant for accessing decentralized or censored content.

Released in 2015, IPFS stands for InterPlanetary File System. It is a classic peer-to-peer protocol similar to BitTorrent and designed to work as a decentralized storage system.

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IPFS allows users to host content distributed across hundreds or thousands of systems, which can be public IPFS gateways or private IPFS nodes. Users who want to access any of this content must enter an URL in the form of ipfs://{content_hash_ID}.

Under normal circumstances, users would download this content from the nearest nodes or gateways rather than a central server. However, this only works if users have installed an IPFS desktop app or a browser extension.

Brave says that with version 1.19, users will be able to access URLs that start with ipfs://, directly from the browser, with no extension needed, and that Brave will natively support ipfs:// links going forward.

Since some major websites like Wikipedia have IPFS versions, users in oppressive countries can now use Brave's new IPFS support to go around national firewalls and access content that might be blocked inside their country for political reasons and is available via IPFS.

In addition, Brave also says that its users can also install their own IPFS node with one click with version 1.19 and help contribute to hosting some of the content they download to view.

A focus on privacy features

"We're thrilled to be the first browser to offer a native IPFS integration with today's Brave desktop browser release," said Brian Bondy, CTO and co-founder of Brave. "Integrating the IPFS open-source network is a key milestone in making the Web more transparent, decentralized, and resilient."

This marks the second decentralized browsing protocol that Brave now supports after integrating the Tor network and the Onion protocol in June 2018 in the form of a feature now known as "Tor Tabs."

But Brave also said that work on its IPFS integration is also expected to expand in the coming future. The browser maker plans to support automatic redirects from DNSLink websites to their native IPFS versions, the ability to co-host an IPFS website, the ability to easily publish to IPFS, and more, in future versions.

Native IPFS support is just the latest in a long line of privacy-focused features that Brave has added to its product. Previous ones include support for a private video chat system, a built-in ad blocker, fingerprinting randomization, minimal telemetry, query parameter filtering, social media blocking, and others.

Brave, which launched in 2016 to great fanfare, is currently believed to have around 24 million monthly active users, after passing the 20 million mark last November.

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