How does DuckDuckGo’s tool that gets rid of ad tracking in your emails work?

The DuckDuckGo search engine has just released a tool that allows you to reduce email ad tracking without having to change your email provider. Here is how it works.

Famous for its search engine focused on the protection of privacy, DuckDuckGo will now tackle the issue of email tracking. In a blog post dated July 20, 2021, the company details the operation of a new tool supposed to protect your emails from the prying ears of large advertising agencies.

Protect yourself from tracking without changing email

The tool, soberly named Email Protection, which is still in beta for the moment, looks a lot like what Apple announced at its last conference. Concretely, DuckDuckGo offers you to create a “relay” email address (which obviously ends with @ which will take care of getting rid of all the tracking tools contained in an email before returning the mail to your address. main.

Impossible for an advertiser to know if you opened the mail, at what time and on what device, since the mail will first transit on the DuckDuckGo server where it will be opened and then anonymized before being returned to you. The solution has the advantage of protecting you from advertising tracking without having to change your email address. And DuckDuckGo promises that no mail will be saved on its service.

What is a tracking pixel?

Advertising tracking by email is generally based on a method called “tracking pixel”. Advertising agencies or advertisers who send you emails can insert a tiny, entirely invisible tracker in the body of the email, which will be “activated” when the email is opened. This often takes the form of an image which, when downloaded when the email is opened, sends information to the sender. This allows you to get an idea of ​​the open rate of your emails, but also to retrieve personal information such as your IP address, the type of device you use and even sometimes your geographical location.

Discreet, the tracking pixel is still quite talkative // ​​Source: DuckDuckGo

The tracking pixel is a kind of window to your mailbox that you open without realizing it and which allows advertisers, and sometimes even third-party services, to collect information about you. If you’ve ever seen ads for double-glazed verandas right after receiving an email on the subject, it’s most likely the work of the tracking pixel. What DuckDuckGo offers is therefore to cement these windows even before they are used to collect information about you.

To request access to the service, you must download the DuckDuckGo app on Android or iOS, then go to the application settings then in Email Protection and ask to be placed on the waiting list. As soon as a place becomes available, a notification will be sent to you.

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