Brave, a decentralized web browser, recently drew criticism for the method it uses to combat fraudsters that are trying to exploit the platform for their profit. The platform allows users to reward content creators with Brave‘s native cryptocurrency Basic Attention Tokens [BAT].
This comes after Riccardo Spagni, a core member of privacy-focused cryptocurrency Monero, shared his concerns about the ‘decentralized’ platform. “The BAT ToS let’s them steal “unclaimed” tokens after 90 days, but they can also use “Sybil attack investigation” and KYC/AML excuses to prevent you from claiming your coins for 90 days. They’re basically the mafia,” he wrote.
He also noted, “So it’s centralised, permissioned, and thus entirely disinteresting and better done with a database instead of a blockchain. The awful design decisions just keep coming!” In a recent interview with The Next Web, Brendan Eich – Brave co-founder and former Mozilla CEO – discussed the issue in detail. As far as the claims of Brave admins stealing “unclaimed” tokens after 90-days of inactivity is concerned, Eich said that it is simply not the case.
“The only person who can move BAT from a wallet is the person who has that wallet’s key. If we’re talking about BAT that you own, Brave doesn’t have the key. There’s nothing we can do to touch your BAT. BAT in a wallet you control cannot be ‘confiscated.’ KYC has nothing to do with this fact, and in any event, user-provided wallet KYC is not yet implemented,” he asserted.
Eic stated that if a user claims BAT but within three months (90 days) doesn’t hand it out, it is reintroduced to the User Growth Pool (UGP) for the next month. “We make this clear to users when we offer these grants, and when showing them unspent with an expiration date in the user interface. We’re not going to hold a potential grant in limbo forever waiting for it to be used,” he explained.
BAT subject to third party KYC
Eich highlighted that free BAT distributed by UGP grants are not written to the Ethereum blockchain until anti-fraud checks are done and before they are handed to verified content creators. Moreover, creators cannot receive any tip unless they first prove ownership of their channel or site. They undergo KYC checks with Uphold Inc, a third party service. Moreover, there’s no fixed time limit on how long Uphold can hold the tokens to verify them.
“We don’t hand out free BAT when someone is trying to game this system, say by running many instances of Brave in a cloud hosting service so that they can try to claim a bunch of grants without actually using the browser. When people try to defraud the UGP like that, we flag those creator accounts. But it’s important to emphasize that this isn’t someone using their own BAT — it’s someone fraudulently trying to claim free BAT handouts from Brave,” he said.
According to a report by The Next Web, Eich even admitted that these measures actually makes Brave (and BAT) “semi-centralized”. “We will decentralize much of the BAT platform over time, but as our roadmap describes, not all at once and up front. That is neither scalable nor anonymous on today’s main blockchains,” he stated. He added that the team will try to add peer-to-peer options next year, despite not being in demand with most creators.
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