PlusPrivacy is an open source service for managing personal privacy online. The service is funded by the European Union and is intended for public good. The service is fully operational, with some new features under development.
A central feature of PlusPrivacy is a single Privacy Dashboard from which you can manage your privacy in social networks, browser add-ons/extensions, connected apps, email identities, and ad blocking/tracking prevention. In this article we will highlight the highly useful PlusPrivacy feature of email identity management.
What is email identity management?
Let us say a web service – such as Reddit, Facebook or Quora – requires your email address in order to open an account, and you do not want to provide your real email address. You may have a variety of reasons for this – you do not want to disclose your real identity; you fear that hackers will breach the site and get hold of your address (and sell it to spammers); you do not want to receive promotional emails etc. You could of course open several Gmail accounts and use each of them for registration to a different web service, but that would be onerous.
PlusPrivacy will solve this problem for you by allowing you to create up to 20 email identities in the form FAKEIDENTITY@plusprivacy.com and link them to your real email address. Emails sent to FAKEIDENTITY@plusprivacy.com will be relayed to your real email address, and when you reply to them they will be relayed back to the sender, with your real email identity replaced by FAKEIDENTITY@plusprivacy.com. The sender will not know your real email address and you will remain anonymous. You can cancel the fake identity any time from the PlusPrivacy dashboard, in which case emails sent to it will bounce. You can then generate new identities, as long as the total number of active identities does not exceed 20.
How does this work?
PlusPrivacy server keeps track of your active identities, and when it receives an email destined to one of them it forwards it to your real email address, after adding a special reply-to header that will allow any standard email client to reply using the usual email reply button. When you reply, your message is sent to PlusPrivacy server which replaces your email address by FAKEIDENTITY@plusprivacy.com and forwards the message to the original sender. Any mentions of your real email address in the body of the message are also replaced by FAKEIDENTITY@plusprivacy.com, so that if you were careless enough to put your real email address in the message or in the signature, it will be replaced.
Does PlusPrivacy server keep track of the relayed messages?
No. After a message is relayed in either direction, PlusPrivacy completely forgets it.
What does PlusPrivacy server know about your identities?
PlusPrivacy knows your real email address and your alternative identities. Therefore, PlusPrivacy is good for hiding your identity from websites and individuals but not from government – PlusPrivacy will disclose the link between your real email address and your alternative identities under a valid court order or subpoena. It will not, however, be able to disclose emails relayed through PlusPrivacy in the past as it does not store them.
Want to try PlusPrivacy? It’s free! https://plusprivacy.com