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Who is Winston?

The inspiration for Winston's name came from George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984."

One major premise of the book is thought control - the ability to monitor everything in your home and use that information against its inhabitants. With many of the privacy violations we see today described in the first chapters of the book, namely the IoT devices such as microphones and cameras, the name Winston Privacy fit.

Protecting its users from any malicious or unwanted actors, Winston is helping prevent 1984 from becoming a reality. Those were the thoughts our CEO/Founder, Richard Stokes, had when he designed Winston.


It was 2017, and Richard Stokes was a digital “Ad Man” who, after starting a company from his living room, sold it (wrote a few books), and went on to become the Global Head of Innovation for the ad intelligence division of the world’s largest advertising agency.

He soon discovered how digital advertising platforms were collecting the various digital bread crumbs we drop every day into a modern surveillance equivalent of a credit report…and he didn’t like what he saw!

Down the privacy rabbit hole he went…emerging, after months of research and years of studying various approaches, with a solution - Winston.  Winston’s proprietary Privacy Mesh automatically routes users’ traffic through numerous other Winston devices, selecting new peers as frequently as every 10 minutes.


Traffic is mixed anonymously with that of other users, making it impossible for trackers to connect individual users with their IP addresses. Winston’s machine learning algorithm dynamically classifies, modifies, and blocks suspicious cookies, while letting through the first-party cookies that enable websites to function. Winston can even identify and block trackers that are embedded in first-party cookies, giving you a layer of protection that no browser can offer. You can read more about Winston’s technology here.

Want to learn more about Rich and how Winston got started, check out these articles and videos:

I left the ad industry because our use of data tracking terrified me (Fast Company)

How Winston protects your privacy and saves you money (NBC Tech Trends video)

Rich Stokes at CES 2019 (TechRepublic video demonstration and interview)

Rich and his team at Winston are headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with some members of the team working remotely.  In addition to being a U.S.-based company, the Winston Privacy Filter is designed, packaged, sold, and shipped in the U.S. We use chips and parts supplied by Marvell, a reputable, US based company, and we work only with extensively-vetted suppliers and partners. 

Want to know more about Winston Privacy? Just ask us