I’m pretty sure that programming a browser from scratch is crazy difficult. Especially when you take into account all of the different content types that needs to be supported. Perhaps if you start small, like a text only browser a la Lynx and then expand it, it can be done. Regardless of the difficulty, I really think we need one bad in this day & age due to privacy concerns. Today’s browsers boast some privacy features in some form or another but not nearly enough. Let me outline why I think we need one and what some broad features could be:
1. First off, the browser needs to be able to mimic any current browser in existence via the Browser Agent feature. I envision this as a drop down where you can select which browser you want to mimic or enter your own Browser Agent string.
2. Second, the browser needs to mask the user IP address by default. This can either be randomly generated or using an algorithm that duplicates current IP addressing models to make it more authentic.
3. Cookies should be sandboxed, erased on exit and encrypted to prevent 3rd party reading by default. Users would have the ability to whitelist certain cookies and allow them to persist on a cookie-by-cookie basis. There could be a cookie database that’s regularly updated for the most popular sites. Using this database, the browser can even auto generate cookies when a site requests it so that it never needs to be stored, sandboxed or encrypted. Imagine visiting a popular site like abc.com and it requesting some general cookies to establish if you’ve visited before, the last time you visit, etc. The browser can automatically generate this cookie based on the database with fake info. If a particular cookie is wrong, no big deal – you should still be able to proceed with viewing content. If you need personalized access to the site, then it can always be whitelisted. I envision cookie control features to be essential. This needs to be very granular to the extent that even cookies are kept or auto-generated that things like date, time, email, usernames, etc. can be modified or even kept frozen. Imagine freezing the date last visited field to be whatever you want. This should drop a lot of privacy & tracking concerns from the get go.
4. Built-in ad-blocking features. A lot of browsers already offer pop-up blockers. I’m thinking of going even further than this and beyond current ad-blocking extensions & add-ons. This built in feature can work off a regularly updated list and users’ own criteria. The key on this feature will be to prevent the site from even knowing these features are employed. This can be done a variety of ways, all the way up to actually downloading the ad content but then discarding it completely. This will give the browser an added layer of security & privacy.
6. Cache control is of utter importance. Data should be evaluated carefully before being cached. Cache is an important performance enhancing feature so a balance must be maintained. This is important since tracking data can be embedded in cached files.
These are the major features that I believe needs to be in a browser that protects ordinary users from tracking and privacy invasion. If someone needs something more advanced, there’s always the Tor browser. However, I believe that if these features can be implemented then the browser can the first line of defense for users on the Internet. I certainly don’t have the skills to do this but if anyone reading this gets an idea that can be implemented, at least it’ll be a step in the right direction.