"Web Environment Integrity": Locking Down the Web

By the Brave Web Standards Team

by Peter Snyder, VP of Privacy Engineering and Senior Privacy Researcher

Brave strongly opposes Google’s “Web Environment Integrity” (WEI) proposal. As with many of Google’s recent changes and proposals regarding the Web, “Web Environment Integrity” would move power away from users, and toward large websites, including the websites Google itself runs. Though Brave uses Chromium, Brave browsers do not (and will not) include WEI.1 Further, some browsers have introduced other features similar to, though more limited than, WEI (e.g., certain parts of WebAuthn and Privacy Keys); Brave is considering how to best restrict these features without breaking benign uses.

Google’s WEI proposal is frustrating, but it’s not surprising. WEI is simply the latest in Google’s ongoing efforts to prevent browser users from being in control of how they read, interact with, and use the Web. Google’s WebBundles proposal makes it more difficult for users to block or filter out unwanted page content, Google’s First Party Sets feature makes it more difficult for users to make decisions around which sites can track users, and Google’s weakening of browser extensions straightforwardly makes it harder for users to be in control of their Web experience by crippling top ad-and-tracker-blocking extensions such as uBlock Origin.2 This is unfortunately far from a complete list of recent, similar user-harming Web proposals from Google. Again, Brave disables or modifies all of these features in Brave’s browsers.

The Web is the world’s most popular, and therefore most important, open system for sharing information and distributing applications. It is critical that users stay in control of how they interact with the Web, and for the Web not to be reduced to a series of take-it-or-leave-it black-boxes that users can’t inspect, can’t understand, and can’t modify. Google’s WEI proposal (like many other Google proposals) intentionally shifts power away from users, and towards large websites and advertisers.

WEI is the latest step in a terrible direction Google is pushing for the Web. Web users deserve a browser that doesn’t treat them as enemies that need to be restricted and controlled.

  1. We remove or disable Chromium features that harm users’ privacy or convenience. You can find a running list of these changes here: https://github.com/brave/brave-browser/wiki/Deviations-from-Chromium-(features-we-disable-or-remove)↩︎

  2. Brave browser on desktop maintains support for certain popular and user-serving Manifest v2 extensions. ↩︎

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