We have waited what seems to have been about 4 years in bitcoin time. But Impervious Browser alpha has finally been released. The Peer-to-Peer internet is here. Will everyone be using it?
What is it?
Impervious is a suite of peer-to-peer tools for communications, data transport, and payments. It hopes to handle your encrypted messaging, group video calls, docs, lightning payments, bitcoin wallets, private browsing, and your identity. Technically, "The World's First Bitcoin Lightning-Native Web Browser" is based on Firefox, and it wants to be your daily driver.
Who's behind it?
Impervious Technologies Inc. earlier this year announced a close of their seed financing round from notable Bitcoin investors, including CoinShares, NYDIG, Trammell Venture Partners, Fundamental Labs, Strategic Cyber Ventures, TEN-31, and others to scale the peer-to-peer internet standard. Everyone's anticipation for the Impervious browser has been growing steadily for over a year, and it was announced during Bitcoin 2022 in Miami that the team would release it at some point this year.
Investor of Impervious Meltem Demirors and Chief Strategy Officer of CoinShares said, "The Impervious Browser represents a new approach to the internet. One that defaults to the P2P internet standard and provides consumers with a much-needed choice concerning where and how their data is stored and transferred."
My initial thoughts...
My initial reaction to the Impervious Browser is how clunky it is. The browser itself is excellent, which makes me wonder 🤔 why not just release the browser early on and roll everything else out slowly? It also makes me wonder how this could function if everything were accessible from an Impervious app store instead. Let me choose what apps to install. Similar to how Google Chrome does it. First and foremost, it just needs to be a great browser, but everything they have tacked on makes it feel like it wants to be an operating system inside the browser. It all feels unnecessary. I am not sure whom they are targeting using this browser.
History often rhymes...
Mark Twain was right when he said, "History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme." This is not the first time we have seen desktop-like features inside a browser.
There was the infamous Goowy, Goowy was an online operating system that featured, email (2GB storage), instant messenger, calendar, virtual file storage, and minis. Goowy IM was integrated with Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and ICQ. Goowy file storage (not yet released to the public) allows you to upload and share your personal files with friends and family. You can organize your files in folders, use drag and drop, and listen to your music online.
Goowy was also slow and clunky but wanted to add more audio and video-type features but never entirely implemented all of them. It sometimes crashed your browser. One of the criticisms back then was privacy; no one knew how reliable and safe it was to keep files on Goowy. Sound familiar?
What does Impervious ToS actually mean?
The language of the terms of service is concerning. It was brought to everyone's attention on Stacker News.
In summary, Impervious could always find a way to monetize user data in the future. The language in the ToS gives them the freedom to. Is traffic being seen or manipulated somewhere by Impervious right now? They have made it clear. It is not. There is also a great back in forth with the CEO of Impervious discussing this issue on Stacker.News (definitely recommended reading if you plan on using Impervious Browser.)
The definition of impervious means "not allowing entrance or passage; not capable of being damaged or harmed;" it means becoming impenetrable.
I think, overall, Impervious is delivering precisely as was described. Is this the future of web browsing? Nope. Do I feel safe using it? Nope. What about my privacy? That is not clear enough for me to use it. It reminds me so much of the early days of web 2.0 before Google released the Chrome browser. The entire time using it I couldn't help but think Impervious Browser just needed to be better than the Brave browser to get browser market share. Here's to hoping they do more removing before adding onto in their next release.
💫 Fun fact: One could always just run Guacamole in their browser to get all these privacy features.