At CES 2019, TechRepublic Senior Writer Teena Maddox spoke to Winston Privacy CEO and founder Richard Stokes about how Winston's online privacy device protects the user's online browsing and identity. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.
Winston is a whole home privacy device. You plug it in, and 60 seconds later every device you own is completely protected against the Cambridge Analyticas, the Googles, and the Facebooks, and the thousand other little brothers who are trying to track you and your family online.
I spent 14 years in the ad tech industry, eventually culminating as a Global Head of Innovation for Kantar Media, which is an advertising research arm of WPP. So in that role, I worked directly with many of the advertisers and the technicians who were developing these algorithms. So I got a pretty privileged look at how these methods were being implemented. So based on that, I developed Winston as a way to counteract all those common tracking mechanisms that are being used to surveil users.
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So all you have to do is plug your wireless router into it, and you're done. 60 seconds later, your entire network's protected.
What we're going to do right now is a search for local restaurants. Now I'm not doing anything special with my browser, I'm just typing in local restaurants the same way anybody else would, and it goes to Google. And right now we're in Las Vegas; however, what you can see here is through the scrambling encryption technology of Winston, Google actually thinks we're located in Virginia. Now your location is going to change every 10 minutes based on the website that you're on. So it's not necessarily going to be Virginia— it could be anywhere in the country.
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Now let's say we actually want to reveal our personal information—well, we can do that pretty easily. We do that through a contextual menu here in Firefox. And we go to Winston, reveal your location for 10 minutes. Now what will happen is the page will refresh, and now you can see we've revealed ourself. We can see the ads now. And we're in Las Vegas. Now that will automatically reset in 10 minutes, so you'll be back to full protection then. But if you'd like, you can just reset it right away.
Winston is priced at $249 for the unit. That includes one year of service. After that, pricing is $8 a month for every device you own.
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Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including People, W and Women's Wear Daily.