DuckDuckGo is launching an email protection service

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 20, 2021
Updated • Jul 20, 2021

Internet search engine DuckDuckGo plans to launch an email protection service in the near future. Designed to relay emails for its users, email protection works similarly to Mozilla's Firefox Relay service.

Basically, what it does is protect user email addresses from third parties similarly to how proxies work. Third parties, sites that users sign up for or applications, see only the service's email address and not the user's actual email address.

DuckDuckGo has designed its service with privacy in mind. The company states that it does not save user emails and that it does not save any information except for the forward email address and the service's duck email address. Additionally, it promises that information will not be used for advertising or any other purpose that is not related to the service that it offers.

DuckDuckGo reveals that it is using its own email infrastructure for the Duck Email Protection service.

duckduckgo email protection

Duck address sign-ups require an invite code at the time of writing. When you sign-up, you are asked to create a new Duck address and provide the actual email address that you want the emails to be forwarded to. From then on, you may start using the Duck email address on the Internet and in applications to protect your original email address from the services you sign up for. Trackers will be removed from emails automatically when email protection is used. The technical details of how that is done are unknown at this point.

It is unclear at this point whether users will be able to create multiple email address forwards when the service comes out of beta.

Update: Users of the DuckDuckGo app will have the option to create new email addresses on demand.

DuckDuckGo users may join the waitlist only by downloading the official DuckDuckGo app for iOS or Android. You find the option under Settings > Email Protection (beta).

DuckDuckGo promises that it will support the service long-term.

Closing Words

Email relay services such as Mozilla's Firefox Relay service or Apple's recently introduced feature to hide email addresses are designed to protect a user's email address. Since emails are forwarded through the services of these providers, it is trust that is of utmost importance when it comes to these services.

Whether it is a good idea is up for debate, as other options, such as the creation of temporary email accounts, exist, that serve a similar purpose.

All email content is visible at least in theory, but that is also true for any email that is not encrypted.

Now You: do you use email relay services, or would start to use them?

DuckDuckGo is launching an email protection service
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DuckDuckGo is launching an email protection service
Internet search engine DuckDuckGo plans to launch an email protection service in the near future.
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  1. Sebas said on July 22, 2021 at 12:52 am
    Reply Simple and effective. It is worth upgrading to one of the paid versions.

    As stated here, I will not ever trust Gabriel Weinberg and I am at a loss that ghacks net writes about DDG regularly. At least warn your readers about Weinberg.

  2. John said on July 22, 2021 at 12:36 am

    One issue I see arising here is that this creates two points of failure. Someone sends you an email, and both DDG and your real email have to both up and running 100%. If either one is down, you don’t get the email. This may not happen all that often, but I’ll bet it’s enough to turn some people off of it, especially if they miss an important email because of it.

    I think DDG should have opened up their own email provider. Something not as a paranoid as Proton Mail that forces you to use their apps and stuff, but that just stripped the stuff the DDG forwarding thing strips, and is compatible with your choice of email programs (Thunderbird, Outlook, whatever) and Android apps via IMAP.

  3. David said on July 21, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    To avoid disclosing my primary email address for online registrations and impersonal purposes, I use an email forwarding service called From what’s been reported so far, it appears that ManyMe offers superior convenience, much stronger security, and more granular inbox control. The basic service is free; the company is working on a premium fee-based version. Thus far I have been extremely pleased with ManyMe’s broad capabilities, reliability and ease-of-use — given the terminology being used by DDG, it appears that ManyMe may have shaped their work.

  4. Abe said on July 21, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    What is the vertical tab extension you are using in the screenshot?

    1. ChromeFan said on July 21, 2021 at 6:30 pm

      It’s not an extension. He is using Microsoft Edge and it’s built in to the browser.

      1. Abe said on July 22, 2021 at 11:37 pm

        Thanks for answer. I wish Chrome had vertical tabs.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 21, 2021 at 5:45 pm

      This is a build-in feature of Microsoft Edge.

      1. Abe said on July 22, 2021 at 11:34 pm

        Ok thanks Martin, I thought it was Firefox.

  5. ULBoom said on July 21, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    Wow, Palemoonies have found a new cause. Seems DDG’s results vary from locale to locale, they’re fine for me but somewhat lacking. Qwant and Startpage have become dreadful. Takes scrolling through a page of Goolgarbage to get actual search results from google. Searx works well if you can get it to work well, have it stay that way and trust the instance.

    We use a paid email service with a severe spam filter while realizing the limitations of email in general. Just don’t expect much unless you can encrypt the entire train, including at rest, with keys available to only you, etc., etc., etc.

    Not sure what this DDG thing is good for but I really hope they don’t get spread so thin they become another Brave, crap everywhere, none of it finished.

    The big issue with all of these schemes is unless you can successfully spoof gmail or a tiny few others, many sites won’t let you sign up or even recognize you. WordPress sites are awful in that regard; throw in Cloudflare and you’re dead.

    Something interesting about spam bot nets:

    1. Iron Heart said on July 22, 2021 at 3:50 am


      How is Brave spread thin with „crap everywhere“ (wow, that was stupid), if I may ask? They provide a browser that is capable, and a search engine that is decidedly still in beta phase. You are acting as if they pursued more projects currently, but that is not really the case, as far as I can tell.

      I also have to laugh at this assertion coming from a Mozilla user, these guys have one of the biggest graveyards of failed projects out there. Including shit like Firefox OS that never had any chance of succeeding and was dead on arrival, mind you.

  6. Gerard said on July 21, 2021 at 11:28 am

    When an internet service is free, then in all likelihood you, the user, are the product.

  7. Anonymous said on July 21, 2021 at 8:56 am
    Reply has an anonymous email forwarding service called Blur. There is a Firefox extension for it too.

    1. max3 said on July 23, 2021 at 12:55 am

      Can’t help jumping in here… wouldn’t it make more sense for that to be a Thunderbird extension?

  8. Lazarus said on July 21, 2021 at 4:11 am

    Yeah DDG are supergreat and megafantastic! If only their search results would show what one is looking for. I wonder how many DDG searches end with:
    Let’s face it, DDG is not Robin Hood coming to your aid for free. It’s a business, and now that it’s risen in popularity the BUSINESS starts and they do exactly the same thing all the other greedy bastards do. We’re big now, our executives deserve Ferraris! DDG is not your friend, it never was.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on July 21, 2021 at 10:03 am

      That’s my main problem with DDG – it’s all fine and dandy, but their search results – the core of their service offering! – simply suck compared to Google/StartPage. Same with all the other Bing piggybackers and even Brave Search; when it comes to the crunch, I still need to use Google 80% of the time.

      1. Bryan Frank said on April 15, 2022 at 10:18 pm

        As a “civilian” user (no deep knowledge of the mechanics behind a search), I actually like DDG better, as it SEEMS to only search by the keywords that you type. Google SEEMS to include its tracking information on you, in the search.

        I emphasize the “SEEMS”, as this is only a SUBJECTIVE observation. As such, I have no way to verify this OBJECTIVELY. It could also be the reduction in the number of ad “hits” at the beginning of the results …?

  9. Lazarus said on July 21, 2021 at 4:03 am

    It’s all fun and games until there’s a tiny, tiiiiny little breach in DDG’s security and a really small amount of 500 trillion billion email addresses are compromised. But hey, no problems! Just change email, all your passwords boil your computers and phones and move to another country and you’re good to go.

  10. Leland said on July 20, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    I use a free spam filtering service for the server at work; While different it has similarities. It has been very reliable for about a decade. Overall it may be useful especially for those who don’t have their own server. My question would be will it support things like spam filtering or will it just be a relay. If it pre-filters spam it may indeed be very useful.

  11. David said on July 20, 2021 at 7:45 pm

    Regardless of the previous discussion, I trust DDG a whole lot more than MS or Google, and I foresee using their service when it is available. I already use Abine BLUR (which has email forwarding) and Firefox email proxying, and I rotate my fake email addresses periodically. These are very useful for communicating with companies or individuals you may not want to hear from again. I get very little SPAM because of using services like this. I even submit comments like this using email forwarding.

  12. anony said on July 20, 2021 at 6:29 pm

  13. Anonymous said on July 20, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    And let me guess, people are still going to fall for this garbage marketing scheme.
    Do I have to remind people about this?
    DDG’s founder (Gabriel Weinberg) has a history of privacy abuse, starting with his founding of Names DB, a surveillance capitalist service designed to coerce naive users to submit sensitive information about their friends to get back in touch with old friends from school.

    I am sure DDG doesn’t care to protect you or anything, they only want your information same as dishonest Mozilla and corrupt Apple who pretend they care about your privacy.

    I mean, emails, people should even have to stop using that insecure protocol, Protonmail or anyone can’t help you with their “encrypted” marketing scheme, unless you send emails to Protonmail users… what do you think happens to your email? it stops being encrypted if you send it to gmail or anyone else. But this is even worst than paying for protonmail and sending emails to other people who are not using protonmail, this is literally companies wanting to know exactly what sites you try to sign up to and etc etc.
    I mean, can you really believe you can change magically address without anyone knowing anything? now your problem is 2 companies will get to see your emails of the sites you sign up, and not only one. what a smart idea.
    Unless you use an internal “alias” or something like Outlook has, people are really dumb using these “email PROTECTION Service” (what a pretentious name and a lie).

    1. Anonymous said on July 21, 2021 at 1:11 am

      I use DDG because Google blocked me with their silly captchas. As simple as that

  14. Anonymous said on July 20, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    this “relay ” stuff not gonna always work…nowadays i keep seeing website restricting which email provider are allowed to sign up/register, obviously they use some reason like bot/dummy/troll acc.

    mostly about online game website in particular, there are also some forum here and there.

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