DuckDuckGo had rolled out its Email Protection service in private beta last year with a waiting list for those wanting to use it. The popular privacy-focused web browser on Thursday announced that it has removed the waitlist for its Email Protection beta, making it open for everyone who wants to try.
For the unversed, DuckDuckGo’s Email Protection is a free email forwarding service that allows you to create a free, personal @duck.com or private “duck” address email address to safeguard your real email address from companies.
This feature strips hidden ad trackers from incoming emails that it can find and protects the privacy of your personal email address without asking you to change email services or apps.
The company said they found that approximately 85% of beta testers’ emails contained hidden email trackers embedded inside images and links within email messages.
“Companies embed trackers in images and links within email messages, letting them collect information like when you’ve opened a message, where you were when you opened it, and what device you were using,” explained DuckDuckGo in a blog post.
“And because your email addresses are connected to so much of what you do online – making purchases, using social media, and more – tracking companies can also effectively use your personal email address as a profiling identifier. In fact, many companies are so hungry for your personal email address that they’ll actually pull it from online forms you haven’t even submitted yet! Beyond sending you more emails, companies often upload your email address to Facebook and Google to target you with creepy ads across apps and websites.”
According to DuckDuckGo, the Email Protection feature works seamlessly in the background to deliver you more-private emails right in your inbox.
So, how does the Email Protection service work? If you sign up for Email Protection, it allows you to create two types of Duck Addresses to help protect your email privacy, which are Personal Duck Address and Unique Private Duck Addresses.
Personal Duck Address allocates a name of your choice to your duck address, for example, [email protected]. Any emails sent here will be stripped of email trackers on our block list and then forwarded to whatever personal email address you provide, arriving at your regular inbox providing information as to how many trackers were removed, the company behind the trackers, and other useful information.
On the other hand, Unique Private Duck Addresses generates a random address, for example, [email protected]. Every time you browse different websites, DuckDuckGo will automatically detect email fields giving you the option to generate a unique Private Duck Address for additional protection against email address profiling.
Just like your Personal Duck Address, Private Duck Addresses also forward privacy-enhanced emails to your personal inbox. Using a new Private Duck Address every time you are asked to submit an email address should make it even more difficult for companies to track you. You can also individually deactivate each private address at any time, in case you start receiving a lot of spam.
Besides opening the Email Protection beta to everyone, the company also announced that it has added new features like Link Tracking Protection that helps prevent tracking in email links, Smarter Encryption that helps with unencrypted email links, and the ability to reply directly from your Duck Addresses.
Mobile users can sign up for DuckDuckGo’s Email Protection beta in the DuckDuckGo mobile app (iOS / Android). Go to the latest version of the DuckDuckGo mobile app, open Settings > Email Protection to get started.
For desktop users, you need to go to duckduckgo.com/email while using a DuckDuckGo browser extension (Firefox / Chrome /Edge /Brave) or DuckDuckGo for Mac (beta).