When you open an email, there is no obvious indication that the sender will know. It’s not like Facebook Messenger, which sends an acknowledgment every time you open a message. However, the sender may include a small, pixel-sized image in the email that identifies when we opened it. In turn, it tells the sender (narc). It is known as a pixel tracker and is an example of how email is not a privacy-friendly service.
However, tech companies have begun to fight back. Last year, Apple implemented “Hide My Email” for its suite of products, which generates a unique “burner” address every time you need to share your email with a company. That recording address forwards your messages to your real address, so you never have to share it with dubious services.
DuckDuckGo started testing a similar feature in July of last year, opening the beta to a limited group of users. However, if you wanted to try it, you had to put yourself on a waiting list. Now, the feature is available for anyone to try.
DuckDuckGo hides your email and protects your privacy
DuckDuckGo offers you two types of email addresses. The first is a personal duck address. You choose the name and it never changes (eg jak[email protected]). The second is a uniquely generated, private duck address. Every time you need to share your email with a service, DuckDuckGo will generate a new address for you to use. That way, you don’t need to share your email with each and every company looking to abuse your personal data. Instead, they just get the burner account.
Both Duck’s personal and private addresses forward your emails to your primary address (your Gmail, for example). That allows you to give your duck addresses to any service you want, without revealing your personal email address.
However, that’s not the best part. Before forwarding an email from your personal or private Duck address to your primary address, DuckDuckGo removes any trackers. That means you can open your forwarded emails in peace, since the sender has no way of knowing when you read the message. It also fights against link tracking, which will prevent companies from tracking your activity when you click on a link in the email.
DuckDuckGo claims that this feature is extremely respectful of user privacy and that they never save your emails. The only personal data the company asks you for is your primary email address (otherwise it won’t be able to forward your emails), but you don’t need to share access to your inbox, contacts or any data for the style. .
How to set up a DuckDuckGo burner email address
To access the feature, you’ll need the iOS or Android app, or install the browser extension on Chrome, Firefox, Brave, or Edge. The feature is supported by DuckDuckGo’s Mac app, but it’s still in beta and there’s still a waiting list.
On iOS or Android, open the app, tap the settings cog in the top right, then scroll down and choose “Email Protection.” On desktop, after installing the browser extension, go to the Email Protection page (linked here) to get started. Click through the home screens, then choose an @duck.com address for yourself.
Next, choose the primary address you want DuckDuckGo to forward your untracked messages to. Once you’re all set, click “This is OK” and you’ll be blocking your official DuckDuckGo email.
Every time you need to generate a new recording address, go to the Email Protection settings on the mobile device. On the desktop, select the DuckDuckGo extension in your browser, then choose “Create a new Duck Address”. DuckDuckGo will add the newly generated address to your clipboard, so you can easily paste it where needed. That said, DuckDuckGo will also be able to identify when you’ve clicked on an email address field and offer you a duck address to use automatically.
When you receive a forwarded message in your main inbox, DuckDuckGo includes a report of the trackers it blocked on the original email, a reminder of why this feature is so useful in the first place.