In 2015, the two of us took a look at the state of the internet. A handful of companies had—and still have—most of the control and power, and they grew big by giving away free services in order to learn—then leverage—a lot of information about their users. Retargeting was on the rise, which meant (and still means) ads were following us everywhere we went. Revelations from the previous three years about the way the NSA was using Americans’ data angered us and helped raise broader awareness about this problem. Not-so-suddenly, the internet we started using in the early 90s looked very different than the one our families are using today. We believed control needed to be returned to the people, so we asked ourselves: What can we do about it?
People have a primal connection to the physical place where their stuff lives. So, we started to dream of a physical device that would give people ultimate control of their data. Right now, nearly all the data that comprises your online life is probably stored in a massive data center. You can’t see it, you can’t touch it—and you don’t know who can. That dream of a device that would make data ownable to the individual—not the stranger—is what led to Helm.
Over the past few years, Helm has gone from concept to prototype to product —a personal server that lives where you do and gives you control over your online life. It’s something you can physically see, touch, and turn on or off—and it’s something only you can access. That means no more retargeting, no more insecure information, no more fear of being caught up in mass surveillance, no more being used to sell whatever.
We wanted the right to own our online lives, and we believe everyone should have that right. With Helm, you can feel safe, secure, and in control, knowing your data is right where it should be—with you, so you can live online on your own terms.
We created Helm so each of us could be the owners of our online identities. We hope you’ll join us—and take back your own.