The team behind the popular privacy-oriented Brave browser found itself in the middle of a tweetstorm after it became public that the browser autocompletes verbatim in its address bar to add an affiliate code from which the company generates income.
The Affiliate Browser
A popular cryptocurrency commentator took it to Twitter to reveal that the Brave browser has been automatically completing certain domains to add a referral code.
So when you are using the @brave browser and type in “binance[.]us” you end up getting redirected to “binance[.]us/en?ref=35089877” – I see what you did there mates 😂
— Cryptonator1337 (@cryptonator1337) June 6, 2020
The example is clear – when a user types Binance.us in Brave browser, the verbatim is automatically completed to add a referral code.
Meanwhile, it also became clear that Brave isn’t only doing this with Binance, but also with Coinbase, Trezor, and Ledger, to name a few other providers.
Eich was quick to issue a formal explanation of the problem, stating that it was a mistake.
Brave’s CEO formally explained what happened. He detailed that they “made a mistake… Brave default autocompletes verbatim “binance.us” in the address bar to add an affiliate code. 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.”
Brave allowed its users to buy cryptocurrencies through Binance earlier this year through an opt-in widget in the browser.
He also explained that the autocomplete has been “inspired by search query clientid attribution that all browsers do, but unlike keyword queries, a typed-in URL should go to the domain named, without any additions. Eich apologized for the mistake.
It’s certainly true that companies need to generate revenues, but the least that could have been done is to be upfront with the users. One might wonder whether or not Brave would have fixed this if no one pointed it out.