IBM has filed a patent for a blockchain-based web browser, according to documents published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on August 6, 2019. In the filing, IBM advocated that maintaining a record of browser events on a blockchain-based peer-to-peer network would enable users to exercise greater control over their privacy.
Under the proposed system, IBM’s browser will log data based on the user’s selected computing environment, allowing it to differentiate between home and work use, for instance.
Blockchain Browser to Provide Enhanced Security
The patent filed with the USPTO suggests that the browser could collect information such as the URLs browsed by the user, bookmarks, search terms, and even online transactions. This data will then be stored on a blockchain-based network.
Users will be able to fine-tune the parameters of data collection depending on whether the user is logged onto their home or work computer. Additional information that can be stored on the blockchain includes task performance, geolocation, plugin or extension installation, and security patches.
Another use case suggested by IBM involved developing a system to detect and predict security breaches based on the user’s browsing history. This will be based on real-time vulnerability scanning and malicious intent detection algorithms. According to the patent, such security-oriented features will allow the browser to provide a safer web browsing experience, while also giving users more control. The browser could also include the use of tokens to validate a user’s browsing activities.
Potential benefits include a viable backup of user data in the event of system failure and enhanced security in comparison to the existing client-server architecture.
Blockchain Technology Already in Use by Web Browsers
Web browsers have always had lackluster support for blockchain applications, and have required extensions such as MetaMask to connect to blockchain-based decentralized applications.
IBM’s proposed browser will face competition from Opera, once a formidable force in the internet domain. The company recently launched its Opera Touch browser, which provides a built-in cryptocurrency wallet and native support for Web 3.0 and decentralized apps (DApps) without requiring a third-party plugin. The browser also supports ERC-20 tokens and stablecoins for making transactions.
Another competitor is Brave browser which was launched by Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich. While the browser comes with advertisement-blocking enabled by default, it rewards users with Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) for viewing unobtrusive and safe advertisements. Users can spend their BAT by tipping website owners and content creators.
IBM’s patent comes a year after Craig Wright’s nChain introduced the Metanet protocol, which would supposedly enable off-chain applications, including web browsers, to interpret on-chain data. Wright proposed that Metanet improves data security, adding that anyone who seeks to profit from user data should compensate them for it.