All browsers offer some kind of “incognito” mode. And, of course, you can manually delete your browsing history. But these privacy methods require some technical knowledge, and they can leave some evidence behind. Now, Brave has announced an interesting solution.
The Brave Browser 1.53 update, which should arrive in the coming weeks, introduces a feature called “Off the Record” or “OTR.” The idea is pretty simple; websites can mark themselves as “sensitive,” and when visited, users will have the option to view this site without leaving a paper trail.
Sites visited in OTR are not saved to your browsing history. And, more importantly, your computer doesn’t save cookies, permissions, or other evidence of websites visited in OTR mode. This privacy mode doesn’t affect your other tabs, so if someone were to dig through your computer, they would not see any gaps in your browsing history or other unusual behaviors.
It’s an ingenious idea with a great purpose—as explained by Brave, OTR browsing is mainly intended for domestic abuse victims, who are often surveilled by their abusers. The goal is to make it safe and easy for abuse victims to find important medical, legal, and support services.
Other browsers offer safety features that can fulfill this task. But they require a certain level of technical knowledge that most people do not have. Brave has already created a small list of Off the Record partner websites—all of these early adopters support victims of intimate partner violence.
I should note that OTR browsing may not protect users from certain, snitching software. Browser extensions, malware, spyware, and spying at the network level (by observing traffic through the internet router) are out of Brave’s control. Additionally, crash logs and OS-level logging may reveal some browsing history.
Off the Record browsing will be generally available to any website that wants to implement it. The feature will arrive in Brave Browser 1.53 (or 1.54 on Android). Those who want to test the feature today can enter brave://flags and enable #brave-request-otr-tab.