DuckDuckGo announced this week that Email Protection is available to everyone. This free email forwarding service will block hidden trackers and help users hide their email addresses.
The closed Email Protection Beta launched last year and found that approximately 85% of beta testers’ emails contained hidden trackers. Trackers allow companies to collect sensitive information such as your location, what time the email was opened and what device was used. This information is then used for things like targeted ads or shared with a third party.
As an additional layer of protection, users can generate unique private addresses on the fly, which will then obfuscate their personal @duck.com email address. Private addresses are unlimited, so they can easily be deactivated and replaced with new ones, which are randomly generated; this grants the user a high level of anonymity.
When the DuckDuckGo extension detects an email field in a browser, it will give users the option to either use their personal or private @duck.com email address. So the personal email address is meant to be shared to trusted parties, such as friends and colleagues, while the private email address can be used when users suspect their address might be compromised, such as signing up for a free newsletter.
DuckDuckGo has been making continuous improvements to the service since the closed beta opened, adding several new features. Link Tracking Protection ensures that users are protected when clicking a link in an email, preventing a company from accessing personal data such as their email address.
Smarter Encryption will upgrade HTTP links to secure HTTPS links — provided the link is on DuckDuckGo’s upgradeable list. Users can now also reply with their @duck.com email address, however DuckDuckGo says “there is no guarantee that the email will not include the forwarding address or any other personal identifier.”
Desktop users can try the beta by adding the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension to their browser and navigating to the email service. Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Brave are currently supported. Mac users will need to grab DuckDuckGo for Mac (currently in beta). iOS and Android users can access the service by downloading the latest version of the DuckDuckGo mobile app, and selecting “Email Protection” in Settings.