Brave Browser's Unlinkable Bouncing protection improves bounce tracking protection further

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 10, 2022

Recent Nightly versions of Brave Browser support a new privacy feature that Brave calls Unlinkable Bouncing. It is designed to protect better against bounce tracking, a technique that sites use to bypass a browser's privacy protections.

Modern web browsers may block certain tracking techniques outright or when the user configures the browser in a specific way. Some tracking options dry up when that happens, and some advertisers developed new tracking methods that bypass protections.

Bounce tracking is designed to circumvent context restrictions. In classic scenarios, sites would run advertising and tracking scripts that would be used to track users and increase advertising revenue. With scripts blocked, another option needed to be found. Bounce tracking uses redirects that are invisible to the user eye to bring advertising sites into the right context.

Brave introduced several protections against bounce tracking in its browser in previous years. In 2021, Brave integrated warnings for users who have enabled aggressive tracking protection in the browser, and a new feature that it called Debouncing. The feature skips known bounce tracking URLs to load the destination site directly.

Current stable versions of Brave may protect the user in the following ways against bounce tracking:

  • Known tracking parameters are removed from URLs.
  • Debouncing attempts to skip known bounce tracking URLs to load the destination immediately.
  • With aggressive blocking enabled, Brave warns users when a suspected bounce tracking URL is about to be loaded.

Unlinkable Bouncing is a complementary feature according to Brave that makes bounce tracking less effective through the use of temporary storage. Basically, what the new technique does is create temporary DOM storage for the site that is used for bounce tracking. The storage is removed automatically once the site is no longer open, and that means that it can't identify the user anymore on the next (bounce tracking) visit.

Unlinkable Bouncing introduces first-party ephemeral storage in Brave Browser. First-party ephemeral storage complements the already used ephemeral third-party storage feature of the browser. The latter clears third-party data automatically when the first-party site is exited that loaded these third-party scripts. First-party ephemeral storage protects users against data that first-party sites may store in the browser for tracking purposes.

First-party ephemeral storage takes things one step further, and prevents the first-party site from re-identifying you: sites will be able to remember you across visits only if you want them to. This brings about a total shift in the Web’s default behavior: to date, browsers have assumed users want every site to remember them unless the user takes some explicit step against that remembering. Instead, Brave is working toward forgetfulness (and thus privacy) by default.

Unlinkable Bouncing is available in Brave Nightly already. Brave plans to launch it in the upcoming Brave Stable 1.37 release.

Article Name
Brave Browser's Unlinkable Bouncing protection improves bounce tracking protection further
Recent Nightly versions of Brave Browser support a new privacy feature that Brave calls Unlinkable Bouncing to improve user privacy.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. walker said on March 11, 2022 at 7:53 am

    I’m more than happy to use Brave now and don’t regret leaving Firefox at all.

  2. Dennis said on March 11, 2022 at 1:56 am

    Brave is a good back-up for those (rare) occasions when my Firefox with the arkenfox user js fails me…

  3. Anonymous said on March 10, 2022 at 11:04 am

    Ironheart incoming…….

    1. Iron Heart said on March 11, 2022 at 8:30 am

      Honey, I’m home!

      1. Yash said on March 11, 2022 at 11:57 am

        Proper response.

  4. Gerard said on March 10, 2022 at 10:41 am

    I am not “brave” enough to use a Chromium-based browser.

  5. Anonymous said on March 10, 2022 at 7:53 am

    I am not brave enough to buy into a crypto-bros browser.

    Engagement from browser stans are always good for the metrics though.

    1. Sam said on March 10, 2022 at 4:18 pm

      You don’t need to use Rewards or any ‘cryto’ feature to use Brave.
      The only thing turned on by default is the ad newtab background images which is suppose to give you some BATs but can be turned off easily and soon (it is available in Nightly) you can even use your own NTP image now.
      So your excuse about crypto browser doesn’t make sense when you can use it without joining the whole thing, just like any other browser.

      There are so many problems with BATs I hate the fact it exists, take time from the developers and we normal users barely get some features. But Brendan Eich wanted that and it is what it is.

      1. Opt-in My Asteroid said on March 10, 2022 at 6:01 pm

        For a browser with supposed opt-in. There sure are a lot of nag prompts and uninstallable elements lurking about.
        Truly opt-in doesn’t require looking high and low, in every nook and cranny settings menu to remove the Opt-it components.
        Won’t even consider using their bloated, sow bellied hog of a browser until they remove the so-called opt-in components. Opt-in components are supposed to be added AFTER the acceptance of the offer to opt-in. Not all inclusively installed and merely a toggle away from full-on BAT-Shite Borg-hood.

      2. Iron Heart said on March 11, 2022 at 8:28 am

        @Opt-in My Asteroid

        Nagging? What are you talking about, dude?

        brave://settings/appearance (Settings / Appearance) –> Hide Brave Rewards button

        New Tab Page –> hamburger menu –> Show Sponsored Images

        Is that so hard? You’d have to do far more to de-crappify Chrome, Edge, Firefox…

  6. Andy Prough said on March 10, 2022 at 7:44 am

    Bounce tracking still requires first-party cookies be allowed to be set in order to be effective. Easy way to defeat it is to simply not allow cookies, or use an extension that deletes the cookies once you leave a site. Cookies are ancient technology, no one should really be allowing them any longer, expecially once they leave a site, just like no one in 2022 should be allowing the malicious advertising industry to run malevolent js on their systems.

    1. Tom Babo said on March 10, 2022 at 4:11 pm

      @Andy Prough
      I think you don’t understand what “cookies” are for.
      You are actually not doing ANYTHING by deleting cookies…
      In fact, you are just making the browser re-create them when you visit a page, instead of just reading the previous information, when what is good if they keep more up-to date information about you?
      There is feature to BLOCK cookies, and that should be it.

      Brave blocks 3rd party cookies by default, and that should be enough for anyone… you blocking scripts or cookies in a 1st party domain, will do nothing for your privacy, you are already sharing your information with the domain.
      It’s rare to see websites blocking because you block 3rd party cookies anyway.

      But cookies are necessary for many things, so I don’t know what you are talking about, not all will ‘track you’, also you don’t take into consideration how there are other elements like session storage, local storage, indexedDB and others that you can’t just block like you can do with cookies.

      I mean, you bought the whole fantasy lie about “privacy”, you are on the internet, you are not suppose to have privacy. You think that blocking 1st party cookies and the 1p domain won’t know anything about you, well 1p knows a lot about you, that’s why Brave blocks 3p by default, not 1p, because blocking 1p will never really matter as a privacy standpoint.

      1. Andy Prough said on March 10, 2022 at 6:41 pm

        You obviously hven’t read a thing about what bounce tracking is or does, there’s no point trying to have any kind of a conversation with you about this. For anyone who is actually intererested in the actual topic at hand, I’d recommend researching how the companies that use bounce trackers utilize intermediate 1st party cookies.

  7. Tron said on March 10, 2022 at 7:21 am

    Brave fights for the user…

  8. Courage Potato said on March 10, 2022 at 6:53 am

    Brave is slowly but surely becoming the browser to recommend for friends and family, no ifs or butts about it. When Google destroys adblocking very soon, this becomes a must. One way is to just install Brave and set it up on a family members computer, don’t say anything about it, when they call you and complain about the ad-tsunami in Chrome just say “try browsing with Brave instead, it’s there in your startmenu programs”. I guarantee they will be pleased. The orange lion eats multicolored balls for breakfast.

    1. Benjamin Bowen said on March 10, 2022 at 4:02 pm

      They are not ‘destroying’ adblocking, the problem is some features won’t be there, features that you probably don’t even use from uBlock or ABP.
      I read in ABP documentation they are getting reading for the manifestv3 update, uBlock hasn’t even really started… so how can you know what will be available or not? seems like the main ‘adblocking’ function will be there, the one that should be enough for most users.

      Of course, since Brave has a native adblocker, everything is going to be better, Brave adblocker has most of the uBlock features and they even support CNAME filtering which was done thanks to they implementing a DNS API in Brave which is not available on any other Chromium browser because Google never implemented it.

      I mean, the best native adblocker is from Brave, and it does the job faster than an extension would, the easiest way to see it is with cosmetics, although they do nothing for the user and just ‘hide’ elements, Brave hides stuff instantly, you can’t even see the element being hidden, but on uBlock you will get to see the element and after some ms it will get hidden.
      Of course I am talking about complex cosmetic dynamic filters, but I realized who much I wish Brave would finally implement all other uBlock features faster so uBlock won’t be used for me for procedural cosmetics or something.

      1. Courage Potato said on March 11, 2022 at 5:10 am

        “features that you probably don’t even use” I most probably do. The so-called adblocking they will allow is severly crippled compared to what we have today, and of course, it’s about money. The very second this hits chrome the ad-revenue will skyrocket even if you have adblockers and I seriously doubt that the user experience (ads seen) will be the same or better. Nope, they waited until the whole world used their browser and now they start to strangle you. Adblock Plus will not succeed, neither will anyone else that targets Google Chrome, so Brave will be the best shot if you want an ad-free world like you’re used to. Again, Brave are also greedy bastards, they’re business is not FOR YOU and they don’t give presents so they will 100% abuse their newfound popularity when the time comes. It’s an endless cycle of who gets to abuse the users the most and one just has to buckle up and enjoy the ride, read up on countermeasures and so on..or just succumb and enjoy ads in Windows OS , ads in your browser, ads in your programs..I’m sure display manufacturers are planning on adding built-in ads in our screens too. Welcome to Hell everybody.

        PS: I’m not a Brave fanboy, I use Ungoogled Chromium as long as I can..

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