Next Steps For Browser Privacy: Pursuing Privacy Protections Beyond Extensions

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - 1:30 pm2:00 pm

Peter Snyder, Brave Software


Practically-focused privacy research has disproportionately focused on the browser extension layer. This extension-predilection is a double edged sword. On the positive side, extensions are both simpler to develop and easier to distribute than deeper-reaching modifications, allowing researchers to iterate quickly and share their work with a large audience. On the negative side, an extension focus reduces the privacy improvements that can be achieved, as extensions can only modify a limited set of browser behavior. Researchers exploring modifications beyond the extension layer also lack easy ways of sharing their findings with a broad audience.

As a result, many possible web privacy improvements go under-explored. In this talk, I'll discuss three privacy improvements being developed at Brave that would not be possible at the extension layer. I hope to encourage other researchers and privacy activists to move beyond an extension-focused deployment strategy, and to consider privacy-oriented browser vendors as deployment strategies for getting their improvements in the hands of web users.

Peter Snyder, Brave Software

Peter Snyder is the Privacy Researcher at Brave Software, where he works on improving the privacy guarantees of the Brave Browser. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2018. His research focuses on web security and privacy, browser hardening and measuring how the growth of the Web API has impacted user privacy and security.

@conference {226337,
author = {Peter Snyder},
title = {Next Steps For Browser Privacy: Pursuing Privacy Protections Beyond Extensions},
year = {2019},
address = {Burlingame, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jan

Presentation Video