DuckDuckGo launches 'Email Protection' beta that strips trackers from emails

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,159   +872
Staff member
In context: According to a study published in Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies in 2018, 70 percent of the emails we receive contain trackers. Companies typically stash these data collection devices in pictures or icons. The only effective way to avoid them is to turn off embedded images in your email settings.

On Tuesday, privacy-focused search engine DuckDuck Go announced a new service that protects users' privacy by stripping trackers from emails. Email Protection provides users with a "Personal Duck Address" that removes hidden data collection items like tracking pixels in images then forwards them to your regular inbox, whether Yahoo, Gmail, or any other.

DuckDuckGo's Email Protection is an automated process that does not read or save your emails. It roots out those pesky trackers, removes them, sends the email to your regular address, then permanently deletes the email from its server. It will also tell you the type and number of trackers removed from each email.

Additionally, while using the DuckDuckGo app or extension, users can anonymize their email address by creating a random Private Duck Address to use with sites and services that may want to spam or share email data with third parties. On-demand anonymous accounts forward messages to your primary inbox just like a regular Duck Address. However, these are meant as disposable accounts. Users can deactivate them at any time if spam gets out of control.

Email Protection is currently in its beta state while DuckDuckGo works out the kinks. Accounts are free, but there is a waitlist to join. To request an address, open the settings on the DuckDuckGo iOS or Android app (or the DDG browser extension) and select Beta Features->Email Protection, then click "Join the Private Waitlist." The app creates a timestamp that only exists on your device. When it's your turn, DuckDuckGo will contact you with instructions on how to claim your email address.

Image credit: Dawit

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Wereweeb

Posts: 63   +134
Every time you see a "Private [something something]", the first thing you should ask is, "Who is funding them?"

Brave is just a Chromium clone with an adblocker and optional ads. ProtonMail has their own paid tier supporters. Who is funding DuckDuckGo's 100+ employees? Why would I trust any american company to respect anyone's privacy?
 

Austinturner

Posts: 291   +344
Every time you see a "Private [something something]", the first thing you should ask is, "Who is funding them?"

Brave is just a Chromium clone with an adblocker and optional ads. ProtonMail has their own paid tier supporters. Who is funding DuckDuckGo's 100+ employees? Why would I trust any american company to respect anyone's privacy?
Who is funding their employees? How about, their search advertising…

From wiki: “ DuckDuckGo earns revenue by serving ads from the Yahoo-Bing search alliance network and through affiliate relationships with Amazon and eBay.[72] As a privacy-focused search engine, the ads served on DuckDuckGo are keyword and search-based unlike other search engines that track user behavior for search ads”
 
I wish DDG didn't censor search results.

I believe it is Bing who censors results, DDG just happens to use Bing for image searches, except the tracking. You could try StartPage or PreSearch as a second opinion, they don´t use Bing.
 

orbital

Posts: 41   +43
I am glad DuckDuckGo exists as Searx is able to index its results while utilizing Google tools too so you get both Google and DuckDuckGo results (plus many more from other smaller search engines). As Wereweeb noted in the first comment, no company having its ToS under US American law is exempt to recording search data, profiling and user personalization. The funny thing is they always say "it's about trackers, hackers, ransomware guys" and never about the intelligence agencies that work with them, but also independently intercept and collate every bit of data on the internet. Even ProtonMail has been funded by US angel investors and Switzerland is not having the best reputation for privacy.

Still I am glad DuckDuckGo expands its privacy-focused services for those who haven't heard of anything beyond Google and themselves. The good news is people are more and more concerned about what takes place under the surface. For example Google recently started advertising itself on TV and via street ads and this is not because there is too much competition. It's because people are finally starting to realize how big, powerful and data penetrating into their lives it is.