Brave Acquires Open Search Engine, Tailcat; Breaking Away From Google’s Prying Eyes

Popular privacy-focused web browser Brave has bought out Tailcat, an open search engine, in its efforts to launch a private search engine.

On Wednesday, Brave announced the acquisition of Tailcat, an open search engine that was created by the team that was behind the Cliqz anti-tracking search-browser combo. Cliqz, now defunct, operated under Hubert Burda Media, exited the browser and search space in May last year.

As per the announcement, Tailcat will be used as a base for the much expected Brave Search. The Brave Search will be an inbuilt search engine that is developed to allow private and transparent surfing.

Brendan Eich, Brave co-founder, and CEO explained that the company is focused on launching Brave Search before the end of summer 2021.

“Brave is now working on integrating this technology and making it available to all as Brave Search, first via early access for testers, and then for general availability by this summer.”

At the moment, Brave browser highly depends on a number of external search engines, giving its clients a choice to use popular search engines such as DuckDuckGo that is also privacy-focused, and Startpage, and also the mainstream search engines such as Google. Brave claims that almost “all of today’s search engines are either built by, or rely on, results from Big Tech companies.”

On the other hand, Tailcat is developed on top of a fully independent index whereby it will not collect IP addresses and other personal information and data aimed at enhancing the search results. Eich explained that Tailcat engineers have been developing a privacy-focused search engine over the last seven years till Cliqz ceased operations. As part of the acquisition deal, the Cliqz development team will now move to Brave. The dev team is headed by Dr. Josep Pujol, who hailed the deal as a major breakthrough in offering an alternative to the Big Tech dominance.

The acquisition comes days after Brave announced a major achievement in its efforts to enhance its browser adoption. Brave doubled its monthly active client base from 11 to 26 million.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Oasis Network Launches Mainnet, Enabling More DeFi Privacy & Data Tokenization

Top cryptocurrency exchange Binance has announced it will list privacy-focused Oasis Network on its platform. The listing will enable Oasis Network to make it easy for under-collateralized loans in DeFi.

Binance announced this on its blog, with plans to offer Oasis Network on its platform with three pairs, which include ROSE/USDT, ROSE/BUSD, and ROSE BTC.

Yesterday evening, Oasis Network mainnet was live with over 75 independent validators already registered.

According to the Network, it is set up to provide decentralized applications, and it can provide about 1000 transactions per second.

In 2018, Oasis Network raised $45 million from top crypto ventures such as Binance Labs, A16z, Pantera, and Polychain.

The funds helped the company to grow bigger, offering more efficient services to its users. The company ensures the encryption of data and ensures the enforcement of privacy policies via smart contracts.

According to Oasis Labs, the ‘confidential compute’ functionality helps encrypt data to ensure several processes’ privacy, from genetic research to credit history check.

By default, the Oasis Network respects the user’s data preference and supports new sets of privacy-preserving applications. Users can earn rewards when they stake their data with apps that control how the services they use consume their most sensitive information.

Oasis Labs collaborated with Binance in August this year to launch CryptoSafe, a decentralized platform designed to fight crypto fraud.

Oasis platform will offer a wider capacity

The Oasis platform’s integration offers a much wider network capacity to ensure credit checks and privacy of sensitive personal or sensitive data. It also helps loan applicants to establish their creditworthiness to creditors.

Most existing DeFi loan products provide over-collateralized lending, but plans are in place to also introduce under-collateralized loans.

Based on the post, Binance decided to collaborate with Oasis Labs to offer a platform where exchanges can reduce the industry’s number of frauds. While ensuring safety, the platform will also protect each participant’s sensitive data confidentiality in a decentralized environment.

Oasis Labs has hundreds of DeFi projects

The announcement also noted that the DeFi industry leaders such as Balancer and Chainlink recently joined the Oasis Network.

Oasis Labs has also assured participants that its security architecture can improve private decentralized exchange platforms’ operations, such as automated market maker Uniswap.

Oasis Labs says several partnership projects are already ongoing on the network, including Binance-led CryptoSafe Alliance and the privacy-first genome sequencing partnership with Nebula Genomics.

Just last month, Oasis Lab revealed that Nebula Genomics would use “Parcel,” its data governance API product, to enhance the platform’s capabilities. And there are hundreds of projects the company is presently working on, according to the report.

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Author: Ali Raza

Bitcoin Wallet Reveals Wasabi 2.0 With Stronger Privacy Features through WabiSabi Debut

Leading privacy-focused Bitcoin wallet, Wasabi Wallet announces the launch of its long-awaited update, Wasabi Wallet 2.0. The new update is expected to integrate CoinJoin-ed payments on its platform to enhance privacy automatically. According to the statement, the new improvements on Wasabi 2.0 aim at making Bitcoin payments private, faster ad effortless for non-technical users.

In a blog statement by Wasabi Wallet, three key improvements will be implemented on the new updated version – including rewriting the UX design, integrating easy-to-use and automatic UX for CoinJoin enabled payments launch of the WabiSabi protocol. The latter will facilitate faster and more cost-effective transactions on the Wasabi 2.0 wallet, laying the foundation for automatic CoinJoin Bitcoin payments and transactions.

CoinJoin (CJ) is a privacy enhancement method that mixes several Bitcoin transactions into one pool, obscuring the transaction sender’s view and receiving address.

According to the lead developer and co-founder at Wasabi wallet, Adam Ficsor, the new update will allow users to choose between implementing the CoinJoin privacy feature or making transactions on the public chain. Wasabi Wallet 2.0 users will have a selection of privacy targets, including “none, some, high and Snowden,” Ficsor further stated.

Not only will the updated wallet focus on privacy but user-experience as well, the statement reads. The Bitcoin wallet provider will offer an effortless method for novice users allowing automatic CoinJoin payments. It further reads,

“Manual CoinJoining will be a thing of the past or for power users only.”

However, de-anonymizing such transactions on CoinJoin can be easy if the number of transactions in the pool is low. This raises privacy issues that WabiSabi is looking to solve once it launches together with the Wasabi Wallet 2.0 update. According to the statement, WabiSabi will allow users to put in any amount of Bitcoin in the CoinJoin pool – independent from other users – which increases the levels of privacy on CoinJoin.

Ficsor finally stated many users would prefer privacy-enhanced transactions instead of normal wallet transactions despite the CoinnJoin transactions taking some time before being released. Hence the firm’s goals in introducing automatic CoinJoin transactions. He finalized by stating,

“To improve upon these, we’re planning to make CoinJoining automatic by default and build upon the realization that coin control is mostly friction when the user would like to spend conjoined coins, so we should be able to introduce a simple send for that.”

Wasabi 2.0 is expected to launch in the coming six months – with the time interval set anywhere between 3 and 14 months.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Zcoin Launches Lelantus Testnet, Leveraging Burn-and-Redeem Model for Enhanced Privacy

Zcoin, the privacy-focused crypto project, has launched Lelantus testnet as it looks to increase the anonymity features within its ecosystem. The testnet launched on October 20 leverages a burn-and-redeem approach to provide higher privacy for its blockchain transactions, coupled with short confirmation times.

This newly adopted model by Zcoin is an alternative to other decoys ‘anonymity functions’ that distort transaction trails. As for the Zcoin Lelantus testnet, users will be able to destroy an arbitrary amount of coins and later redeem new ones from the pool, eliminating the associated transactional history. Reuben Yap, the Zcoin project steward, told Coindesk in an email that,

“At any time in the future, you can submit a cryptographic proof that proves you destroyed/burnt coins without revealing which coin it was … This proof, once accepted, will allow you to redeem coins that do not have any previous transaction history or linkages.”

Lelantus testnet has done away with Zcoin’s initial model where users had to redeem the full amount of the coins burned; instead, they can now redeem partial amounts. Yap gave an example of a user who opts to burn $100; previously, they would have to redeem $100, but they can now take out a smaller amount with no trace it came from the $100.

This testnet also operates in a trustless manner based on the decisional Diffie–Hellman (DDH) assumptions. It means that the Zcoin privacy network will not require a trusted setup, as is the case in most cryptographic innovations. According to Yap, this quite a cutting-edge in preventing coin inflation,

“A compromised trusted setup in zero-knowledge proofs allows someone to forge the proofs, meaning that coins can be created out of thin air leading to hyperinflation … In privacy coins where amounts are obscured, such inflation can also remain undetected.”

With the Lelantus testnet scheduled to last for about one month, Yap hinted that 2.0 is already in progress. This version will offer more advanced features, such as allocating the rights to redeem burnt coins to another party.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Forked Brave, Braver, Caves to Legal Pressures; Switches Name to Bold Browser

Braver, a forked derivative from the privacy-focused browser Brave, has been compelled to change its name to Bold Browser following a legal suit from a ‘certain party.’ A brave top executive has since come forward insisting that they have had to defend their trademark.

Following this move, Braver has since changed its name to Bold Browser, as announced on its official twitter. The post indicating that one of Braver’s community members had been threatened with financial harm was, however, not keen to highlight the party suing them.

Brendan Eich, Brave’s CEO, seemed to substantiate the allegations on his twitter, replying to a Brave user migrating to Braver. He insisted that Braver has to rename and get their infrastructure to support their fork. Further asserting that a trademark would be lost if not defended citing Mozilla and Firefox case.

“We defend our trademarks, just as Mozilla and all other trademark holders do … Open-source licensing does not grant a trademark license; the two are legally unconnected.”

Forks have been a popular concept in the open-source crypto sphere, with the community and developers’ not agreeing on the same protocol and policies on how the project should proceed. The Brave fork, now Bold, came about when Brave came under scrutiny after a user exposed a scheme that redirects users to Binance-affiliated links, all while gaining commissions.

On further inspection of their source code by the community, they found that more websites were in on the scheme, including Coinbase, Trezor, and Ledger. The CEO has since apologized on Twitter, highlighting that the dev-ops were working to eradicate all adware, including one’s focus on the Basic Attention Token (BAT). He, however, came out to defend Brave’s position stating that this was a feasible way of generating extra income for the browser.

Brave still has a chunk of its users intact, recording at least 15 Million monthly users and daily active users’ north of 5 million. The open-source browser has geared towards helping users privately secure their data.

The browser also incentivizes users to view their ads by rewarding them with their very own crypto BAT. This token is currently trading at $0.249669 with a market cap of $369,748,833, according to Coinmarketcap. In the last 24 hours, it recorded trading volumes of $125,014,729, with 1,480,958,645 BAT in circulation as per this writing.

Potential Chromium Fork

A Bold Browser contributor has now told Cointelegraph of a potential “un-googled” chromium fork for Bold instead of leveraging the Brave protocol. The source cited this was attributed to the fact that the initial Brave code was chaotic and would bring about challenges in the case of an update rather than the legal implications.

“We plan to make Bold a Chromium-based browser that contains the features that people expect from privacy-respecting ad-blocking browsers, with next-generation integrations (such as web3 and ipfs), without any advertising programs or token reward schemes.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

3 Blockchain Firms, iExec, IoTeX, and R3, join Linux Foundation’s Privacy-Focused Consortium

  • Data privacy-focused group, the Confidential Computing Consortium (CCC), which includes heavyweights such as Microsoft, Intel, Alibaba, and Huawei, announces the addition of six companies, including Facebook, Google, Accenture and three blockchain-based firms – IoTeX, iExec, and R3.

The CCC was launched in late 2019 by the Linux Foundation to bring together developers with a frequent need for data privacy to create confidential computing solutions. The CCC employs a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) technologies. TEEs allows data to be stored and computed on an excluded and secured area, preventing sensitive data from interacting with other parts of the device or application that may be less secure.

TEEs are heavily used on biometric security systems on smartphones, which keeps sensitive information from unauthorized apps. The data on TEEs is only available to authorized systems allowing systems to run without exposing massive amounts of raw data, which prevents AI and machine learning hacking. In a statement on TEEs, Stephen Walli, chairman of the CCC governing board said,

“Securing data-in-use in hardware-based TEEs can strengthen other security- and integrity-related technologies [such as blockchain-based apps].”

Walli also confirmed that the consortium’s annual budget would be bumped up to $800,000 for the 16 companies in the group so far.

Blockchain firms, IoTeX, R3, and iExec, join CCC

Only half of the new entrants in the consortium deal with blockchain-related services, with R3 an enterprise-focused blockchain company, IoTeX is an internet-of-things company that integrates blockchain technology to secure data and iExec, a decentralized cloud computing firm. The three companies will join Oasis Lab, the only blockchain company present among the CCC founding members.

Blockchain technology and TEEs share the common property of data security. The experience that these blockchain firms can bring data privacy TEEs so users will be able to not only “own their private data, but also to use it in a privacy-preserving way,” Raullen Chai, CEO of IoTex, said in a statement.

According to Chai, the introduction of TEEs in confidential computing will solve two main issues in people’s everyday data privacy – facial recognition and contact tracing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facial recognition and Contact tracing solutions

As governments enhance their public facial recognition systems, there is a group of citizens that fear the data may not be secure enough, which may be hazardous if the system is hacked.

Chai stated the company is working on a confidential computing solution that leverages blockchain technology to offer a middle ground for both the governments and skeptics. He said,

“Facial recognition processes can be executed within a secure TEE-based confidential computing environment, where the raw data (people’s faces) and a cross-referencing database of faces can be analyzed and subsequently forgotten after the desired results are obtained by governments.”

Governments across the world are contributing millions to improve contact tracing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, users providing their location data has been tough given the security and trust issues patients have.

With the introduction of blockchain levered TEEs and confidential computing, Chai said a trustless platform would be created, meaning that users will not have to worry about their private and sensitive data being shared or used without their consent.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Privacy-Focused Crypto, Beam, to Jump Into DeFi With ‘Confidential Assets’ In Upcoming Hard Fork

Beam, one of the significant privacy-focused crypto assets, is moving into the DeFi space in a bid to disrupt the $1.5 billion booming market. The project has since confirmed its second hard fork on June 28, an upgrade that will facilitate its debut in the DeFi space. This milestone comes with several modifications in Beam’s ecosystem hence the bold move towards ‘Confidential DeFi.’

To enhance its privacy levels, Beam is built on the mimblewimble blockchain. This network designed to minimize transaction size to handle more activity, creating room for scalability. Also, it prevents one from reusing a blockchain address hence making it difficult for analytics firms to track crypto funds transferred on its chain.

With the DeFi market on a steep growth curve, Beam now wants to bring its underlying privacy features into this space. Currently, it is almost impossible to operate anonymously, given all transactions are recorded on Ethereum’s public blockchain. This also applies to the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) as well. Beam has since highlighted its goal as,

“Beam will enable true private and decentralized DeFi instruments like private stablecoins and private synthetics which will track commodity, stocks, and ETFs.”

Beam Upgrades in Preparation for DeFi

The new hardfork will facilitate the creation of Confidential Assets dubbed ‘Beam CA’ set to run within the network as independent tokens. This feature is part of Eager Electron 5.0, a recent upgrade designed for the creation of Confidential DeFi apps. Notably, the CA’s are linked with various assets ranging from commodities like gold to crypto-assets such as ETH.

Some fundamental privacy features embedded in the CA’s include sending assets via non-interactive transactions and an option to unlink transaction history. The Beam CA’s will be made available to users who can lock up to 3,000 Beam tokens, roughly $1,400 as of press date.

Apart from CA’s, the Beam hardfork lays the ground for scriptless smart contracts. Beam’s CTO, Alex Romanov, told Decrypt that the project would extend mimblewimble’s infrastructure to enable anonymity in the digital contracts,

“As a part of building a confidential DeFi platform on top of the Beam blockchain, we will enable the creation of Mimblewimble-based sidechains and integrate a wide variety of Scriptless Contracts to support escrows, collateralized debt positions, multiparty transactions, and Oracle-based settlements.”

The hardfork will also scale Beam’s DEX, which is currently available on atomic swaps as it completes the beta phase. Consequently, CA’s will be tradeable against frequently favored assets like BTC, LTC, BEAM, and QTUM once they debut.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Brave’s Privacy Browser Exposed For Auto-Adding Affiliate Links to URLs In A Hidden Way

  • Brave Browser in the spotlight after a user noticed the privacy-focused browser adds its affiliate links in an autocomplete feature for a number of websites including Binance, Trezor, Coinbase, and Ledger.
  • The CEO of Brave, Brendan Eich, has since apologized and the autocomplete feature is now removed.

In a tweet sent out on Saturday, one user made public a “silent scheme” by Brave browser to redirect users to its Binance affiliate links, earning them commissions. The browser added the affiliate link “ref=35089877″ once you type Binance.us website, as an autocomplete feature.

Once the Binance affiliate link was publicized, the community looked through Brave’s open-source code to find more affected websites including Coinbase, Trezor, and Ledger hardware wallets.

As soon as the post went viral, Brendan came forward apologizing for “the mistake” and said the dev team was working to remove this. Eich tweeted a thread on the fiasco stating,

“We made a mistake, we’re correcting. […]We are a Binance affiliate, we refer users via the opt-in trading widget on the new tab page, but autocomplete should not add any code.”

According to Eich, the autocomplete default feature arose from the “search query client-id attribution” the same way as Google Chrome and other browsers do. But for Brave, they did have additions of the affiliate links, a move that Brendan promises will not occur any more on the privacy-focused browser. He added,

“Sorry for this mistake — we are clearly not perfect, but we correct course quickly.”

In Brave’s defense, Eich said the affiliate redirect link is the browser’s way of making a “viable business” by offering the user a privacy-focused and client ad-paying platform. He explained,

“What we make on a fixed fee schedule, no browser data in the clear on any of our servers, and so on. But we seek skin-in-game affiliate revenue too.”

However, it is important to note that the affiliate links did not expose any user data – the browser’s affiliate link is the only exposed information. While this is only a first for Brave, some sections of the community are condemning the move as a break of trust to its users.

Recently, it was reported that the Brave browser sees a total of 15 million monthly user visits and 5.3 million daily active users on the platform.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Privacy-Focused Browser Brave Adds Binance Exchange Widget to All Versions

Privacy-focused browser Brave has made an April 30 announcement that it has integrated the Binance widget into all their desktop offerings.

Brave users can now exchange Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC) and all the other cryptocurrencies supported on Binance through their browser. More than this, they get to enjoy many other functions such as buying, trading, depositing and checking summaries, all without having to use other apps.

The Widget Enabled by Default

The same announcement from April 30 says the Binance widget is already enabled by default. This means the millions desktop users of Brave are going to hear about the crypto exchange Binance if they haven’t until now. In the past, the same widget was available in Brave Beta and Brave Nightly, also only for testing.

Now, all Brave users who open a new window or tab in the browser are going to be introduced to Binance and the Brave crypto rewards widget that’s on the page’s right side. After, they will be prompted to connect their Binance account with the widget. After authentication, they will be able to view the assets they’re holding and to trade straight from the browser.

Security and Mobile Versions

Since the widget is built straight into the browser, it preserves the users’ privacy by communicating with the Binance API via authenticated interaction only. Obviously, the widget can be disconnected, which means the browser would no longer interact with the users’ Binance account until the authentication process would get to happen again. Even if enabled by default, the widget can still be manually hidden.

At the moment, Brave has more than 13.5 million users who are active every month across all platforms. The Binance widget is for now integrated into the desktop Mac, Windows and Linux desktop versions of the browser, but it has been announced to have its iOS and Android mobile apps later this year.

Binance said the integration with Brave is another step in encouraging the adoption of cryptocurrency. Neither of the two companies revealed anything about the business the partnership between them will bring. You can try using the Brave Privacy Browser here.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Binance Blocks Withdrawals to Privacy-Focused Bitcoin Wallet Wasabi

  • Beware of using privacy-focused options like Wasabi when dealing with centralized exchanges
  • Binance “does not tolerate any transactions with gambling, P2P, and especially darknet/mixer sites”

Twitter user Catxolotls, @bittlecat reported that the leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance Singapore has blocked his attempts to withdraw to Wasabi Wallet.

Wasabi Wallet is a non-custodial privacy-focused Bitcoin wallet that offers the feature of CoinJoin.

Because Bitcoin isn’t private by default, one can use tools like CoinJoin to use Bitcoin more privately. It requires multiple parties to jointly sign an agreement to mix their coins making it harder for outside parties to determine who is making which particular transactions.

To continue with the withdrawal process, Binance asked the user to submit information regarding the nature of transactions and supporting documents. It also asked for the individuals’ current occupation and annual income range.

The user reported the incident because they were concerned that Binance knew they were using the Wasabi. Coinjoin usage, however, is easy to identify on-chain and exchanges keep track of them to remain compliant with know your customer regulations.

The user got his sats back, “but not without promising Big Brother I wouldn’t mix those utxos.” Binance also warned that it “does not tolerate any transactions directly and indirectly with gambling, P2P, and especially darknet/mixer sites.”

This act of account suspension has been seen as an invasion of privacy by the user which is a reminder of the dangers of using centralized custodial platforms.

Bitcoin has been designed to be a peer-to-peer network that eliminates the middlemen and the need for permission from a central authority. As such, Bitcoin proponents call for shunning these centralized platforms and go for more decentralized alternatives.

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Author: AnTy