In one word: DuckDuckGo’s email protection is primarily focused on blocking email trackers and protecting your email address from businesses. Users can create a personal @duck.com email address and DuckDuckGo will remove hidden trackers from incoming messages before forwarding them to the users inbox.
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 emails from beta testers 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 added 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 be easily disabled 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 use their personal or private @duck.com email address. Therefore, the personal email address is intended to be shared with trusted parties such as friends and colleagues, while the private email address can be used when users suspect that their address might be compromised, such as subscribing to a free newsletter.
DuckDuckGo has been making continuous improvements to the service since the closed beta version opened, adding several new features. Link Tracking Protection ensures that users are protected when clicking on a link in an email, preventing a company from accessing personal data such as your email address.
Smarter Encryption will update HTTP links to secure HTTPS links, as long as the link is on DuckDuckGo’s updateable list. Users can now reply with their @duck.com email address as well, however DuckDuckGo says “there is no guarantee that the email will not include the forwarding address or any other personal identifier.”
Desktop users can test 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 get 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.