As anti-tracking tools grow more popular in the browser, advertisers are finding more sophisticated ways to track your activity and interests through email. Invisible trackers can detect when and where you open a message, and if you stick to a single email address, it’s very easy to build an advertising profile based on the websites, stores, and newsletters you sign up with. The solution? Uh … DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckGo is launching a new Email Protection service that anonymizes your primary email address. The way it works is very simple—you use a special @duck.com email address when signing up for websites or newsletters, and DuckDuckGo will forward all incoming messages to your regular email inbox.
These messages will be stripped of all trackers before they’re forwarded to you. And because you’re only giving websites, stores, and newsletters your @duck.com address, they will never know your primary email address.
This idea may sound similar to Apple’s Hide My Email tool, which launched alongside iOS 14 and Big Sur. But there are a few key differences. For one, Apple’s Hide My Email does not remove trackers from messages, though it does send fake tracking results back to advertisers in its iOS 15 release.
More importantly, the Hide My Email tool generates an intermediary email address for every service that you sign up with. DuckDuckGo Email Protection gives you just one intermediary address unless you use the DuckDuckGo app, which will (eventually) offer to generate new addresses on the fly.
For those looking for an intermediary email service today, Apple’s Hide My Email is the most compelling option … but it only works on Apple devices using the Safari browser. Clearly, DuckDuckGo’s Email Protection is a better service for the average person, even if it can’t generate unique addresses on the fly just yet.
DuckDuckGo Email Protection is now launching in beta. To use the service, you must use the “private” waitlist in the DuckDuckGo mobile app. Simply open the app, enter your Settings, scroll down to the Beta category, and press Email Protection. You will receive a mobile notification when it’s your turn to sign up.