a black-clad person wearing a blank white mask

Email masks: the way to reclaim your email privacy

Jul 17, 2022

Sometimes, reading the news about online privacy can make you feel hopeless. In addition to behavioral advertising, data collection, mass surveillance, and data brokers, there are constant data breaches leaking things like email addresses, passwords, real names, and more.

One technique used to track you across the web is cross-referencing your data via some unique identifier. This can be something like a third-party cookie, but often it’s your email address — your de facto ID on the web. Many websites require your email in order to work, so you end up sharing it left, right and center.

On top of that, when you receive an email, it often contains spy pixels that report back when you’ve read it, where you were, and what device you were using. All of this contributes to the increasing data exhaust we leave behind.

A way out

The good news is that there are ways to avoid this. Many people have already caught on to the fact that you can have more than one email address — I’ve met people with 100+ Gmail accounts! However, this easily becomes unwieldy, and it’s a lot of work to keep track of all your addresses.

Instead, email masks make it easy to create anonymous email addresses as you need them. These are unique addresses that forward all emails they receive to your real address. Want to sign up for a newsletter? Use an email mask. Need to buy something online? Create a new mask. If you start receiving spam emails, or if the mask is involved in a data breach, you can simply disable or delete it.

There are several email masking services out there (including ours!). The most privacy-friendly ones will not only give you email masks, they’ll also strip out the creepy trackers embedded in emails. Shroud.email exists to do just that, without locking you in to some tech giants’ ecosystem, and with open-source code to boot.

With password managers, we’ve gotten used to the idea of using unique, strong passwords for every online account we have. The next step is to do the same with your email address, and email masks are the solution.