On August 6th, a patent application was filed by IBM detailing an idea quite unlike any seen before by the company.
The patent describes web browser supported by a blockchain-harnessing peer-to-peer network.
According to information harvested from the patent application, the theoretical browser is to collect predetermined information from web browsing sessions, which is then transferred to a network of peer-to-peer nodes for storage. The information collected would depend on the browsing experience chosen by the end user; for example, work and consumer grade sessions would require different settings.
IBM plans to capture information on websites one visits, bookmarks, task performance, geolocation, plugins, and security patches.
The company states within the patent that a peer-to-peer browser would be beneficial for users in a world becoming increasingly focused with personal privacy:
The present invention affords a system for storing browsing information such that privacy is preserved and places privacy in the “hands of a user” rather than a third party.
IBM noted one potential feature of their browser, which states that in the case of an attack on the computer’s browser, any data required is stored on the blockchain and a backup readily available.
Included in IBM’s model was a token, interestingly. The technology giant stated that tokens could verify a user’s browsing activities as they are packaged into blocks for the blockchain.
This project could not have come at a more turbulent time for the idea of privacy vs. the blockchain. As Facebook unveils Libra in the face of public suspicion and concerned regulators, the question on everyone’s mind is the power given to corporations.
As privacy becomes more and more of a finite resource, decentralized solutions to data storage such as IBM’s browser could very well become key to a private future, away from social media giants and advertisers looking to monetize information.