DuckDuckGo’s privacy-protecting @duck.com email addresses are available to everyone

After rolling out its email security service in private beta last year, DuckDuckGo has announced that it is finally available to all users. Email Protection is a forwarding service that assigns you a free “@duck.com” email address and intercepts email trackers before they reach your personal inbox.

If you need a refresher on what exactly DuckDuckGo’s email security service does, you can use a personal or private “duck” address to shield your real email address from companies. Before the email reaches your inbox, DuckDuckGo removes the trackers snooping on your location when opening an email, when you opened it, and the device you were using. It also lists how many trackers it removed and which companies they were associated with.

Personal addresses assign a name of your choice to your duck address, such as emma@duck.com. Meanwhile, private addresses go a little further – every time you start filling out an email field, DuckDuckGo generates a random address, which looks something like avtzqdr@duck.com. Using a new private address every time you fill out an online form should make it even harder for businesses to track you. You can also deactivate each private address individually in case you receive a lot of spam.

DuckDuckGo will tell you how many trackers it has blocked and which companies they come from. Image: DuckDuckGo

Now that DuckDuckGo has opened the beta to everyone, it also adds a few new features. This includes link tracking protection, which removes any trackers embedded in the links added to emails (including those attached to images). It also introduces a smarter encryption feature that converts all links over an unencrypted “http://” connection into a secure “https://” link. A URL that uses HTTPS prevents hackers — or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) — from seeing how you interact with a website.

Plus, with DuckDuckGo, you can now reply from your duck address whether you’re using a private or personal address. This can help hide your email address when replying to a company or person whose personal address or identity you may not want to know. But because the email is actually sent from your personal email client, such as Gmail, DuckDuckGo says it “cannot guarantee that the email will not contain your forwarding address or other personal identifier.”

DuckDuckGo has also rolled out a new self-service dashboard that allows you to change your forwarding address and make other changes to your duck accounts. You can try out the beta for yourself by using the DuckDuckGo extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Edge, or you can access it through the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for iOS, Android, and Mac (which is still in beta).

“The biggest threats to email privacy are trackers in emails and the profiling that happens through your email address,” Omid Majdi, the product leader at DuckDuckGo, said in a statement to The Tech Warrior. “DuckDuckGo Email Protection tackles both issues and does it in a simple way – same inbox, more privacy – and we’re excited to make the beta accessible to everyone.”