Google’s Gmail is the largest email platform globally, with over a billion people using it daily to send electronic messages. Many people use the same email address for everything from social media sign-ups to friendly chitchat to newsletters and services.
If you use services like Gmail, your emails are being tracked. Tap or click here to see some of the data Google knows about you. The good news is that DuckDuckGo has a more privacy-focused email service that anyone can use.
Read on to find out how to protect your personal information with this handy email tool.
Here’s the backstory
How often have you filled in your email address on a website to sign up for an account? Have you ever entered an online competition and instantly regretted using your authentic email address? Well, there is no need to worry anymore.
Previously only available to beta testers earlier this year, privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo has opened its Email Protection to anyone. The free service forwards emails to your Gmail or other email platforms but strips out hidden email trackers.
That means you’ll still get the mail, but it gets sanitized, so to speak, so the sender can’t track your actions.
“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,” DuckDuckGo explains in a blog post.
During the testing phase, the company found that 85% of beta testers’ emails had some form of tracking.
How to use DuckDuckGo’s email protection tool
The service doesn’t replace your email account but gives you a privacy-focused @duck.com email address that you can use for signing up for services, newsletters or anything else.
When an email goes to your unique @duck.com email address, the service scrubs it from trackers and forwards the clean mail to your regular email address. Think of it as a spam vaccine for emails.
Besides images and media trackers, another significant threat to your privacy is trackers in email links. Included in the service is Link Tracking Protection, which “detects and removes a growing number of the trackers embedded in email links.”
Here’s how you can sign up for DuckDuckGo’s Email Protection:
- Navigate to https://duckduckgo.com/email on a computer, and install the DuckDuckGo browser extension if you don’t have it already. The extension is available for Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Brave.
Android and iOS users need to update to the latest DuckDuckGo app version. Then, open Settings and select Email Protection to get started.
- On the first page, you must decide on a unique email address. This is similar to choosing an email address on any other service.
- In the box underneath that, type in the email address where forwarded emails should go. Ideally, this will be your everyday account.
- Once that is set up, you can choose a unique Private Duck Address. This is best for websites you don’t trust as it keeps your identity hidden, and you can easily deactivate it.
Remember that you can change your forwarding email address but can’t change your @duck.com address.