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The developers behind the Brave open-source web browser have revealed a new privacy-preserving data querying and retrieval system called FrodoPIR.

The idea, the company said, is to use the technology to build out a wide range of use cases such as safe browsing, scanning passwords against breached databases, certificate revocation checks, and streaming, among others.

The scheme is called FrodoPIR because “the client can perform hidden queries to the server, just as Frodo remained hidden from Sauron,” a reference to the characters from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

PIR, short for private information retrieval, is a cryptographic protocol that enables users (aka clients) to retrieve a piece of information from a database server without revealing to its owner which element was selected.

In other words, the goal is to be able to query a platform for information (say, cooking videos) without letting the service provider infer from a user’s search history to offer personalized recommendations or targeted ads based on the search criteria.

images from Hacker News