Bringing Content Blocking to the Masses: Dealing with Filter List Development, Maintenance, and Compatibility for 50 Million Users

Friday, June 24, 2022 - 11:15 am11:40 am

Shivan Kaul Sahib and Anton Lazarev, Brave Software

Abstract: 

Research has demonstrated the privacy, security, performance and UX benefits of filter-list-based content filtering on the Web. However, content blocking tools also break websites, and are (mostly) maintained by volunteers, who have a range of expertise and motivation. As a result, content blocking tools have ended up being mostly used by expert (or at least non-beginner) users; for “normies”, the web isn’t as nice as it could be.

This talk will discuss how Brave closes this gap and brings filter list content blocking to its 50 million DAU, newbies and experts alike. We’ll focus on how Brave uses a combination of domain-specific engineering, crowd engagement and research (much of it published in venues like USENIX) to improve the coverage and compatibility of filter lists.

Shivan Kaul Sahib, Brave Software

Shivan Kaul Sahib works on privacy at Brave Software, where he focuses on shipping privacy features in the browser and conducting privacy reviews across the company. He is active in the IETF and W3C and previously worked on DNS traffic encryption and consent tooling. He has a keen interest in public interest technology and was previously a fellow at ARTICLE 19, a free expression charity in the UK. He studied Software Engineering at McGill University.

Anton Lazarev, Brave Software

Anton Lazarev is a Research Engineer at Brave Software. He is responsible for many of Brave’s content blocking features, including CNAME uncloaking and cosmetic filtering in Brave’s Rust-based adblocker. In his free time, he is active in the open source community, frequently contributing to software that respects users’ interests. He studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Northeastern University.

BibTeX
@conference {280268,
author = {Shivan Kaul Sahib and Anton Lazarev},
title = {Bringing Content Blocking to the Masses: Dealing with Filter List Development, Maintenance, and Compatibility for 50 Million Users},
year = {2022},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jun,
}