Brave Browser Is Rolling Out a De-AMP Feature To Enhance Privacy

Brave announced that they are rolling out a new feature called De-AMP, which allows brave users to bypass Google-hosted AMP pages, and instead visit the content’s publisher directly. Brave states that AMP harms users’ privacy, security, and internet experience, and just as bad, AMP helps Google further monopolize and control the direction of the Web.

Brave will protect users from AMP in several ways. Where possible, De-AMP will rewrite links and URLs to prevent users from visiting AMP pages altogether. And in cases where that is not possible, Brave will watch as pages are being fetched and redirect users away from AMP pages before the page is even rendered, preventing AMP/Google code from being loaded and executed.

The Verge reported that Brave stated: “In practice, AMP is harmful to users and to the Web at large”. Brave also explained that AMP gives Google even more knowledge of users’ browsing habits, confuses users, and can often be slower than normal webpages. It also warned that the next version of AMP – so far called AMP 2.0 – will be even worse.

Brave pointed out why AMP is harmful:

AMP is harmful to privacy: AMP gives Google an even broader view of which pages people view on the Web, and how people interact with them. AMP encourages developers to more tightly integrate with Google servers and systems, and penalizes publishers with decreased search rankings and placements if they don’t, further allowing Google to track and profile users.

AMP is bad for security: By design, AMP confuses users about what site they’re interacting with. Users think they’re interacting with the publisher, when in actuality the user is still within Google’s control.

AMP furthers the monopolization of the Web: AMP encourages more of the Web to be served from Google’s servers, under Google’s control and arbitrary non-standards. It also allows Google to require pages to be built in ways that benefit Google’s advertising systems.

AMP is bad for performance and usability: Though Google touts AMP as better for performance, internally, Google knows that “AMP only improves the ‘median of performance’ and AMP pages can actually load slower than other publisher speed optimization techniques”.

The Verge explained that AMP was controversial from the beginning and smelled to some like Google trying to exert even more control over the web. Over time, more companies and users grew concerned about that control and chafed at the idea that Google would prioritize AMP pages in search results.

DuckDuckGo tweeted: “NEW: our apps & extensions now protect against AMP tracking. When you load or share a Google AMP page anywhere from DuckDuckGo apps (iOS/Android/Mac) or extensions (Firefox/Chrome) the original publisher’s webpage will be used in place of the Google AMP version.”

Personally, I think that the more privacy online, the better the internet will be for all of us. It is great that Brave and DuckDuckGo are offering people simple solutions to prevent Google from tracking them all over the web. It is very sketchy of Google to trick users into thinking they are on the website they searched for – but swapping it with an AMP page.