First look at Brave Browser's upcoming Off The Record feature

Martin Brinkmann
May 29, 2023
Brave
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Brave Software plans to launch a new privacy feature, called Off The Record, in the upcoming Brave Browser 1.53.

Off The Record addresses a very specific use case: it is designed to allow one users on a shared computer to access sensitive resources without other users seeing records of these interactions in places such as the browsing history.

While it is always advised to use different operating system profiles, to avoid that multiple users use a single web browser or other programs, it may sometimes not be possible to do so. If a single profile is used, it may be difficult for someone to look up information or try to find help, without someone else knowing about it.

Off The Record reacts to sites that use a certain flag and it keeps a premade list of sites as well that trigger the prompt.

When Brave users visit a matching site, the browser displays a prompt to the user. It explains that "this site may contain sensitive content" and gives the user an option to proceed using Off The Record, or to proceed normally.

Off The Record, Brave Software explains, uses temporary storage for visits, so that the browsing history, cookies and some other data is not stored permanently in the browser.

Only data from that particular site is stored temporarily. Opening any other site in the same tab, provided that it does not support Off The Record as well, is stored like any other site.

Brave Software claims that current privacy mechanisms are not sufficient for this use case. Private browsing mode, for instance, may look like a good option, as it prevents the storing of local data when used. The problem with the mode is that it needs to be activated and that it may lead to browsing gaps.

Depending on how careful activity is monitored or inspected, use of private browsing modes may be discovered.

Similarly, using tools to delete browsing storage for specific sites is something that needs to be done actively. It may be easy to forget, especially under stress, and configuration may require technical know how.

Brave's implementation does not protect 100% of the data. The mode does not protect against network spying, the recording of data by browser extensions, any spyware that runs on the system, logs, and other technology that the browser has no control over, such as recording searches in the Google Search history.

The company is working with "experts and researchers at George Washington University and Paderborn University" to improve the Off The Record feature further.

Brave Software plans to launch Off The Record in Brave Browser 1.53. The feature is already in testing in development versions of the browser. It can be enabled in these versions by loading chrome://flags/#brave-request-otr-tab in the browser's address bar and switching the status of the experimental flag to enabled. A restart is required.

You may read the full announcement on Brave's blog.

Now You: what is your take on Off The Record?

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First look at Brave Browser's upcoming Off The Record feature
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Brave Software plans to launch a new privacy feature, called Off The Record, in the upcoming Brave Browser 1.53. We take a first look at the feature.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Frankel said on May 29, 2023 at 2:02 pm
    Reply

    OK feature for the average Joe/Joanne, otherwise no point for it honestly. Let’s refactor on that:
    1) “Always clean on exit” on
    2) Manually sanitize (CTRL+SHIFT+DEL)
    3) “Do not store password” on

    I know normies are obsessed using browsing history lazily as a bookmark substitute and the only thing this feature does is me not having to nuke their mess. Did that once and the Chrome person did not know their passwords anymore either because logged in everywhere for 2 years ongoing.

    1. Sajadi said on May 29, 2023 at 11:47 pm
      Reply

      And that is what… another advertisement to use Firefox? Give me a break! Mozilla is a sell-out and copy-cat. Nothing more, nothing less.

      1. Anonymous said on May 30, 2023 at 6:19 am
        Reply

        What?

      2. Frankel said on May 30, 2023 at 10:57 am
        Reply

        You may need prescription glasses in that case :^)

  2. Martin Brinkmann said on May 29, 2023 at 3:38 pm
    Reply

    This works, if you have full control.

    1. Anonymous said on May 30, 2023 at 12:40 pm
      Reply

      @Frankel said on May 29, 2023 at 2:02 pm

      1) “Always clean on exit” on

      Sure, but what does this advice have to do with OTR?
      OTR takes care of that when leaving a specific URL running under a tab where OTR has been enabled, so no need to shut down the whole browser, or the whole Private Mode window.

      2) Manually sanitize (CTRL+SHIFT+DEL)

      Do you even understand how OTR works???
      If you do ctrl+alt-del then ALL cookies are cleared, the new feature ONLY clears those cookies related to a specific URL running under a OTR tab WITHOUT clearing all the other cookies, so in essence it behaves like a private mode for each TLD URL without having to shut down the whole Private Mode window which is useful when browsing several URL’s.

      3) “Do not store password” on

      Sure, but what does this even have to do with this new feature??

      Obviously OTR isn’t for normies who are obsessed with using browsing history lazily as a bookmark substitute.

      @Sajadi said on May 29, 2023 at 11:47 pm

      What a ridiculous counter argument, this has nothing to do with Firefox, take your trolling elsewhere.

      1. Frankel said on May 30, 2023 at 2:04 pm
        Reply

        Again: Why would I need to keep *any* form of history?
        Is your PC and browser 24/7 on?
        Do you feel to store *anything* beside bookmarks?
        My passwords reside in an external password manager behind argon2*

        Do I know what OTR does? Sure. Absolutely nothing for my use case. It is a nice feature for the average Joe/Joanne.

      2. Reply to below avarage Joe said on May 31, 2023 at 9:28 pm
        Reply

        @Frankel said on May 30, 2023 at 2:04 pm

        Seems like you don’t know how a browser works, your comments doesn’t address OTR’s features, just a lot of empty argumentation.

        “Again: Why would I need to keep *any* form of history?”
        What form history? What does this have to do with OTR? Do you watch YouTube videos with JavaScript turned off on a text based browser? ;-)

        “Is your PC and browser 24/7 on?”
        What does ones use case of the PC have to do anything with OTR and how it works???

        “Do you feel to store *anything* beside bookmarks?”
        To store what???Ever heard of paper and pen? Not sure how this fit in what OTR is trying to address, OTR is helping to automatically remove things stored in the browser when browsing session is over for a specific URL, your earlier “advice” using ctrl-shift-delete can’t fix that because it wipes everything for all tabs/URL’s open which is not at all necessary what a user wants.

        “My passwords reside in an external password manager behind argon2*”
        lol, good for you, but yet again another off topice drivel from your side which doesn’t touch even remotely upon what OTR is.

        “Do I know what OTR does?”
        No you don’t, and even less how a browser works, and your logic in all your arguments are even more appalling, are you a bot or what? :)

  3. Anonymous said on May 29, 2023 at 6:18 pm
    Reply

    Seems like a gimmick, like private browsing. This only protects privacy locally. If your computer is compromised locally, then you have much bigger problems than privacy.

    1. Anonymous said on June 2, 2023 at 2:10 am
      Reply

      “This only protects privacy locally. If your computer is compromised locally, then you have much bigger problems than privacy.”

      Being compromised locally is not necessarily having a virus, it may be the girlfriend seeing your browsing history.

  4. Anonymous said on June 2, 2023 at 2:12 am
    Reply

    “The problem with the mode is that it needs to be activated”

    That seems to be the main problem that motivates that feature.

    Brave “solves” that by:

    1) choosing itself what sites need to be kept private with a premade list
    2) sites choosing themselves if they should be kept private
    3) and doing that point 2) by asking all sites on the internet to put themselves a flag in their code for that feature if they think they should be in the Brave list

    I can see some advantages to this approach, but also lots, lots of drawbacks compared to private browsing (or is it called incognito mode on Chromium based browsers ?).

    I remember seeing a similar but different refactoring of private browsing by Brave recently on ghacks. I can’t decide if they’re genuinely interested in improving a little the practical experience of if it’s just to look different and have some exposure by doing almost the same thing as already existing.

    And let’s not forget that this whole Brave thing is built around some revolutionary concept of spying on you to put targeted ads in front of you. Which somehow means “the future of privacy” or whatever for them.

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