The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a decentralized peer-to-peer protocol designed to make the web less centralized and to avoid censorship, has been integrated into the desktop web browser Brave, making it the first browser to have a native IPFS integration.
The move continues to add accessibility to IPFS, allowing Brave users to access content on the protocol by “resolving ipfs:// URIs via a gateway or installing a full IPFS node in one click,” according to a statement accompanying the announcement.
“IPFS is important for blockchain and for self-described data integrity,” said Brian Bondy, CTO and co-founder of Brave, in an email to CoinDesk. “Previously viewed content can even be accessed offline with IPFS. The IPFS network gives access to content even if it has been censored by corporations and nation-states, such as for example, parts of Wikipedia.”
What truly decentralized access to information can look like
According to Dietrich Ayala, technical product manager of browser integrations at IPFS, while the protocol is still in development, making it easily and directly available is important for users who have real problems in their daily online lives around internet access, trust of data, censorship, and addressing data from blockchains for Web 3.0 apps.
One goal of this integration is to provide an early look at what truly decentralized access to information can look like and get feedback from developers and users so IPFS can start layering on more features and functionality in Brave, according to Ayala.
Brave users who enable the IPFS node will have a network that still functions during internet outages and shutdowns and, for example, can access critical information such as COVID-19 news which is censored in some countries.
IPFS keeps what you browse so it can be used while offline, which is key in places with expensive internet access or spotty networks.
“IPFS also provides the ability to share and collaborate in offline or disconnected environments – nodes can discover each other over local networks even when not connected to the internet,” said Ayala. “Easy and direct availability of IPFS through the Brave browser radically lowers the bar for developers to take advantage of these features in the applications.”
IPFS: How it works
As CoinDesk reporter Daniel Kuhn wrote last year, IPFS is “a radical redesign of how people navigate and use the internet.”
“The current paradigm of web-search runs HTTP, which sends requests for online content to a single server that stores information, meaning that if anything is changed or blocked there is no reliable way to access it again,” he wrote.
“IPFS, a peer-to-peer protocol, instead allows users to download webpages and content stored across multiple servers and provides “historical versioning” that shows how documents have been manipulated. “
With this new integration, Brave users will have easier access to the protocol, while also offloading server costs from the content publisher and improving the overall resilience of the internet. There are currently over 4,000 IPFS contributors worldwide; the Brave browser is used by 24 million people, potentially expanding the reach of IPFS.
A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a unique web identifier made up of a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) or a Uniform Resource Name and is used to retrieve information on a network.
“Brave users will be able to load ipfs:// and ipns:// URIs, which gives users the ability to load a lot of new content which they can’t access in other browsers,” said Bondy. “Dapps are ideal candidates to be hosted on IPFS, and some dapps make use of referencing IPFS content.”
The news comes less than a week after internet hosting behemoth Cloudflare announced that it will be able to connect to domains hosted on the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and IPFS, further expanding IPFS’ reach.
“At Cloudflare Research, we have been exploring alternative ways to resolve queries to responses that align with these attributes. We are proud to announce a new resolver for the Distributed Web, where IPFS content indexed by the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) can be accessed,” the blog states.