Anyone can sign up for DuckDuckGo’s email privacy service – here’s how

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If you’re tired of companies checking whether or not you’ve opened an email, DuckDuckGo has a tool you will love.

Back in July 2021, DuckDuckGo announcement (opens in a new tab) that he was launching Email Protection, an email forwarding service aimed at removing email trackers. This service initially required users to sign up for a private beta, but as of now DuckDuckGo has opened the beta to all users (opens in a new tab). Great news since DuckDuckGo beta testing showed that 85% of emails contain hidden email trackers.

This service is completely free and you can sign up either in the DuckDuckGo mobile app (iOS/Android) or by adding the DuckDuckGo browser extension to your computer. The service runs on Chromium, firefox, Edge and Brave. On Mac, there is also a DuckDuckgo browser app (opens in a new tab) which is currently in beta and can be used to access the email forwarding service.

How does email protection work?

A GIF showing how an email using Email Protection will appear in your inbox.

(Image credit: DuckDuckGo)

Email Protection is not a Email client. It does not replace your existing email address, but instead gives you a new email address to use when interacting with third parties, especially businesses. You then provide this new @duck.com email address and your emails will be sent to this email address and then forwarded to your already existing email address.

Still a little confused? Think about your in-store and online purchases and how you’re always asked for an email address to unlock a discount. Instead of providing your usual email address (eg, imaperson@gmail.com), you can provide your personal Duck address (imaperson@duck.com).

Then, when the store you shopped at inevitably sends you marketing emails — tracker-laden emails — those emails will go to your personal duck address. The trackers will then be removed (if possible) and you will receive a tracker-free email in your usual inbox. You can even reply via your normal email address and it will be routed via your personal duck address as long as the original email passed through Email Protection.

A GIF showing how unique private duck addresses work in DuckDuckGo Email Protection.

(Image credit: DuckDuckGo)

Another feature of Email Protection is that you can create “unique private duck addresses”. These can be created for use with specific websites and make it harder for companies to track you via email. You can also disable every single private duck address in case you start receiving spam.

The best part is that there is no DuckDuckGo email client, DuckDuckGo will not save your emails. As soon as DuckDuckGo receives an email sent to one of your Duck addresses, it immediately deletes the trackers (if possible) and then forwards it to you. At no time is it registered in his system.

DuckDuckGo Email Protection: how to sign up

A GIF showing you how to sign up for DuckDuckGo Email Protection

(Image credit: DuckDuckGo)

To register, log into the DuckDuckGo mobile app on iOS or Android. Make sure you are upgraded to the latest version, then open Settings and select Mail Protection. For those using a computer, navigate to duckduckgo.com/email while using a DuckDuckGo browser extension. Extensions exist on Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Brave, so the most popular web browsers are covered. DuckDuckGo Mac users can try out the Mac-only browser app which is currently in beta.

Keep in mind that despite using Email Protection, you still need to be careful online, even on a privacy-focused service like DuckDuckGo. Since DuckDuckGo does not create the emails they cannot guarantee (opens in a new tab) that it will not include your forwarding address (your normal email address) or other potentially identifying data. Also DuckDuckGo Mobile Browser has been found in the past to block some trackers and not others, so take those internet security promises with a grain of salt.

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