According to a study published in Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies in 2018, 70 percent of the emails we receive contain trackers. Companies typically stash these data collection devices in pictures or icons. The only effective way to avoid them is to turn off embedded images in your email settings.
On Tuesday, privacy-focused search engine DuckDuck Go announced a new service that protects users’ privacy by stripping trackers from emails. Email Protection provides users with a “Personal Duck Address” that removes hidden data collection items like tracking pixels in images then forwards them to your regular inbox, whether Yahoo, Gmail, or any other.
DuckDuckGo’s Email Protection is an automated process that does not read or save your emails. It roots out those pesky trackers, removes them, sends the email to your regular address, then permanently deletes the email from its server. It will also tell you the type and number of trackers removed from each email.
Additionally, while using the DuckDuckGo app or extension, users can anonymize their email address by creating a random Private Duck Address to use with sites and services that may want to 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 meant as disposable accounts. Users can deactivate them at any time if spam gets out of control.
Email Protection is currently in its beta state while DuckDuckGo works out the kinks. Accounts are free, but there is a waitlist to join. To request an address, open the settings on the DuckDuckGo iOS or Android app (or the DDG browser extension) and select Beta Features->Email Protection, then click “Join the Private Waitlist.” 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.