DuckDuckGo Announces Email Protection Service

Posted on July 20, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud with 11 Comments

DuckDuckGo today announced its Email Protection service, which aims to protect email privacy without requiring users to switch email providers.

“70 percent of emails contain trackers that can detect when you’ve opened a message, where you were when you opened it, and what device you were using,” a new post to the DuckDuckGo blog reads. “If that isn’t creepy enough, this email data can be used to profile you, including to target you with ads, and influence the content you see online. Ever open an email and see a related ad about it soon thereafter? Yup, blame email trackers. This data about you is also usually sent directly to third parties, most likely without your consent.”

To combat this problem, DuckDuckGo will release a service called Email Protection that provides users with an email address that forwards all messages to your existing email provider with the trackers removed. The service is currently in beta with a waiting list, and it’s unclear whether DuckDuckGo will eventually charge a subscription fee.

Regardless, the idea seems like a good one. In addition to the forwarding capability, Email Protection will let you unique private email addresses—using the DuckDuckGo mobile app or web browser extension—so that you can’t be tracked by your email address. And since this is DuckDuckGo, your email isn’t saved by the firm. “When we receive an email, we immediately remove trackers from it and then forward it to you, never saving it on our systems,” the company explains. “We don’t even save the headers (e.g., to/from).”

The big hurdle, I guess, is that you’ll need to create a new email address and then use that with all your online services. So you’ll need to go to the effort of changing the email account you use everywhere online.

If you’re interested in testing Email Protection in beta, you’ll need to join a waiting list. To do so, install the DuckDuckGo app on Android or iPhone, navigate to Settings > Beta Features > Email Protection, and then select “Join the Private Waitlist.”

Tagged with

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (11)

11 responses to “DuckDuckGo Announces Email Protection Service”

  1. igor engelen

    I like the idea but I don't think I'm willing to go through all the account hassle again. Giving them unique passwords was quite a project already.

    For now (wel, near future) I'll stick with the lazy option and let Apple handle it in ios15.

  2. crunchyfrog

    I do not see this option in settings on iPhone 12 (iOS 14.7) and app version

    • whistlerpro

      As Igor points out, this is a feature of Apple Mail in iOS 15.

      • waethorn

        I thought that's part of the iCloud+ service, meaning you'd have to pay for it.

        • igor engelen

          The icloud+ feature lets you create unique, random email addresses.

          The mail feature "helps protect your privacy by preventing email senders from learning information about your Mail activity. If you choose to turn it on, it hides your IP address so senders can’t link it to your other online activity or determine your location. And it prevents senders from seeing if you’ve opened their email."

      • Paul Thurrott

        That only helps if you only use Apple Mail. DuckDuckGo's thing will work no matter where you access your email, from the web, from other clients, whatever.

  3. jwpear

    Nice idea, but it seems like it would be easy for Google, or any email provider that also has an interest in ads for revenue, to sow doubt about the reliability of the service by randomly blocking the forwarded emails. And could/would they block all if they deemed DuckDuckGo as the source of lots of spam.

    • behindmyscreen

      That would be grounds for an anti-trust suit and also grounds for an FTC investigation if they did that.

  4. JH_Radio

    I usually use outlook 2016 on Windows so don't even open mail most times on my Apple or android devices.

  5. badgerboyz

    There are other cross-platform forwarding services that make it simple to use substitute email identities. I've been using for several years, and from the reporting on DuckDuckGo's service, ManyMe appears to have a much greater emphasis on security and inbox control, and I can attest to its usability and reliability.