In context: According to a study published in Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies in 2018, 70 percent of the emails we receive contain trackers. Businesses typically store these data collection devices in images or icons. The only effective way to avoid them is to turn off built-in photos in your email settings.
On Tuesday, privacy-focused search engine DuckDuck Go announced a new service that protects users’ privacy by removing trackers from email. Email protection gives users a “Personal Duck Address” that removes hidden data collection items such as tracking pixels in photos and forwards them to your regular inbox, whether Yahoo, Gmail or others.
DuckDuckGo’s Email Protection is an automated process that does not read or store your emails. It eradicates the annoying trackers, removes them, sends the email to your regular address, and then permanently deletes the email from the server. It will also tell you the type and number of trackers removed from each email.
In addition, while using the DuckDuckGo app or extension, users can anonymize their email address by creating a random Private Duck address that can be used with websites and services that may spam or share email data with third parties. On-demand anonymous accounts forward messages to your primary inbox just like a regular Duck address. However, these are intended as available accounts. Users can disable them at any time if spam does not get out of control.
Email protection is currently in beta while DuckDuckGo calculates kinks. Accounts are free, but there is a waiting list to join. To request an address, open the settings on the DuckDuckGo iOS or Android app (or DDG browser extension) and select Beta Features-> Email Protection, then click “Join Private Waiting List.” The app creates a timestamp that only exists on your device. When it’s your turn, DuckDuckGo will contact you with instructions on how to claim your email address.
Image credit: Dawit