If you want to know about Winston, start here. We are transparent about the observations and beliefs that led us to build the Winston device. It’s a bit beyond just a hardware device. Winston is rooted in a mission. Here’s what we see in the world around us, what we believe should be done about it, and what Winston can do.
America's "Seinfeld days" are over. Advertising was once a pretty simple exchange. It went along the lines of watching a sitcom on network television, like Seinfeld. You knew the show was paid for by commercials, which interrupted the programming on a regular basis. The advertisers hoped you watched them. Today, a surveillance economy has redefined modern marketing. This new marketing paradigm is new, radical, and scary, and the tracking that anchors the surveillance economy compromises privacy in alarming ways. The old marketing trade went like this: you trade a little bit of your time for a commercial in order to fund the TV program you get to watch. It's not a “trade” anymore. "Trade" implies volition. Today, you unknowingly give away a frightening amount of compromising personal information for your news, your entertainment, your Gmail, your videos, your Facebook fun. That data absolutely can be used against you and your family and compromise your safety. What’s worse, the dawning Internet of Things complicates an already broken "privacy world," as smart refrigerators, Roombas, internet-enabled Barbies and light bulbs report back to their makers on our home networks, and the public is pressured economically to invite intelligent, always listening hardware like Google Home and Amazon Echo into our homes.
At Winston, we believe internet privacy has fundamentally shifted against the common man, compromising home privacy — to the point where action is now required to reset privacy's equilibrium and defaults.
'Trustworthy' is privacy's first anchor. Who can you trust in a world where the most direct path to money is making you the product? The big names in internet technology like Google and Facebook make excellent money by tracking you and monetizing your personal information. They optimize revenue by forcing their will on the norms of data collection with insecure default settings. Countless “little brothers” exist behind the scenes, trading personal data you may assume is private. But the websites you visit, what you put in your Amazon cart, what's on your Spotify playlist, the church you visit, and who your friends are — that's all for sale. Many small players in the supposed privacy space have truly nefarious aims, subverting their apparent mission. The number of supposed privacy extensions or secure VPNs actually selling your information themselves would startle you.
At Winston, we operate out in the open, in a world that is commonly shadowed — because our mission of smart, pragmatic privacy choices will succeed only when based on transparency and trustworthiness.
Easy enough for Mom. Privacy needs to be simple to execute, or people will "ostrich" — keep their heads in the sand and avoid taking action. Theoretically, in your brilliant moments, you could build what Winston does on your own. It's technically possible, just as it's technically possible for you to build a supercar from scratch in your garage. It's not, however, likely you will do it or easy to do. It would require competency in a diverse technical skill set, fluency in small print legalese, and even fairly deep knowledge of the state of online privacy. The big forces in tech have tilted this playing field against the user. Privacy settings default against the user, requiring you to opt out of bad policies. Furthermore, privacy evolves fast. Simply staying up to date on all the angles where your privacy is compromised is a major burden.
At Winston, we believe easy is necessary in privacy — and “easy” means privacy should exist by default, without personally evaluating thousands of individual privacy setting choices, without the need for exceptional tech savvy, without the need to put in the time to keep up carefully with the latest changes and threats to your online security. At Winston, our role is to reset the grand default of how privacy works — from unknowingly being opted-in to whatever big technology players and data exchanges want to starting from a clean slate, where your default privacy setting is opted out and you choose instead to opt in deliberately, at whatever participation level you are willing to accept.
We have the technology today. Comprehensive privacy is not only possible. It's realistic. That statement alone may surprise you. The common choices surrounding privacy online are a mess, and on the surface, an easy solution doesn’t seem realistic. We certainly didn’t see such a solution in the marketplace. VPNs don’t stop tracking, for instance. All the angles and protocols and settings in privacy technology make online privacy a complicated, never ending puzzle. But...it's a solvable puzzle. And people want a solution. A 2016 Pew Privacy and Information Study showed that people do wish they could do more about their personal privacy online. In that same survey, a respondent expressed hope: "I don't think things are hopeless; some genius will figure out how to get around all this." No, we’re not cocky enough to believe we’re necessarily that genius, but hardworking engineers with the right background, looking at a tough problem in new ways, can bring about true innovation. That’s possible. That’s happening. Winston exists —a simple, easy, plug-and-play privacy solution, figuring it all out for you.
At Winston, we believe brilliant engineering can reset the privacy norms of the internet — you can circumvent countless privacy landmines now with Winston.