DuckDuckGo launches email privacy service

The private search company will mask user addresses and remove email trackers

Search engine company DuckDuckGo expanded its service offerings this week with a privacy-focused email system. 

Launched in beta today, DuckDuckGo Email Protection gives users an email address they can use to register for sites they suspect will track them via email. 

Some companies embed tracking codes in emails that they can then use to monitor user behaviors, such as when and where they open the mails and what links they click on. 

Clicking on links in tracked emails can send information, including your email address, to dozens of companies that can then combine this with other information they already have about you, enabling them to build up a detailed profile of your activity. Citing a Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy report, DuckDuckGo said seven in ten emails carry tracking codes. 

DuckDuckGo users can generate a proxy email address with an @duck.com domain when registering for online services. DucDuckGo then intercepts any emails sent to that address and strips away tracking codes before forwarding them to the user. 

Users can generate and deactivate multiple new email addresses using the DuckDuckGo app, enabling them to use multiple addresses for different classes of service or disposable ones for individual online services. DuckDuckGo promises not to keep the emails it processes. 

Concerns over email security and privacy have prompted several market offerings in this space. DuckDuckGo's email privacy service follows a move by Apple to cement itself as an email privacy service. The smartphone giant announced its own proxy email service at its 2019 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). 

Unveiled as part of its “Sign in with Apple” service, it enables people to register for new online services using a random email address Apple creates and manages for you. The company required developers for its platforms to support the service in their code. 

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At WWDC 2021, Apple announced it would embed the private email relay service natively in its Mail app as a part of the iOS and iPadOC version 15 updates. It will also include an email protection tab that strips out tracking pixels and masks the recipient's IP address. 

DuckDuckGo highlights the ease of use as the main benefit of this service, arguing that users don't have to change email providers or email clients, unlike other email privacy solutions. 

The DuckDuckGo Email Protection Service is currently available on a waitlist basis. You can join the list using the company's mobile app for iOS or Android. 

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