After a year of private beta testing, DuckDuckGo has made its email privacy tools available to everyone, so you can keep your real email address hidden and minimize tracking by marketers.
DuckDuckGo offers two main ways of protecting email privacy:
- Anti-tracking: Get a duck.com email address (mine’s firstname.lastname@example.org) to hand out instead of your actual email address. DuckDuckGo will block known trackers before passing the messages along to your actual email inbox, so that marketers—or anyone using read receipts—can’t see whether you opened their emails. (Just note that this may not prevent tracking the links you click on.)
- Masking: Generate randomized email addresses (such as email@example.com) that forward to your actual address and can be blocked at any time. This is useful for creating extra accounts on websites and cutting off email spam. It’s also a great deterrent against targeted ads, as your true email address is pure gold for tracking purposes.
You’ll find these tools inside the DuckDuckGo app for iOS and Android by hitting the ⋮ icon, then heading to Settings > Email Protection. You can also use DuckDuckGo’s desktop browser extension to generate masked email addresses, but note that this requires setting DuckDuckGo as your default search engine.
DuckDuckGo isn’t the only company that’s working on email privacy. Apple’s Mail app now thwarts trackers by default, and its Hide My Mail service can generate masked emails for iCloud+ subscribers. I also still like the free email masking services Abine Blur and Anonaddy, which I wrote about last year.
But if you’re already using DuckDuckGo’s browser or search engine, its masking tools are a natural fit, and its anti-tracking email address is worth handing out even if you never use DuckDuckGo’s other services.