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Mozilla's new Private Relay extension protects your email address with throwaways

By Liu Hongzuo - on 5 May 2020, 11:59am

Mozilla's new Private Relay extension protects your email address with throwaways

Private Relay by Mozilla for Firebox web browsers.

If you like to keep your email inboxes neat and tidy, Private Relay by Mozilla is now available in the Firefox web browser as an add-on extension.

When you come across a webpage that requires an email address to proceed, Private Relay generates an "email alias" in one click, creating a throwaway email address on Mozilla's end. Your real email address is not exposed to the website, but you'll still receive emails from the webpages you're registered on. When any of these email aliases start forwarding emails you do not want, you can disable the Private Relay forwarding or delete the alias completely.

According to Mozilla via the Private Relay add-on's page, Private Relay was created as a way to prevent legitimate email addresses from leaking in the event of a data breach, since email addresses are usually tied to several online accounts and services. In practice, Private Relay can go far enough to help declutter email inboxes, since you can create aliases for just about every newsletter or EDM (electronic direct mailer) service without giving away your real email address.

To install, simply go to the add-on's page (URL below) and click "Add to Firefox".

This is similar to iOS13's Sign In with Apple feature launched at WWDC 2019 last year, in the sense where email addresses aren't necessary for the apps or websites you use. Apple uses Apple ID for logging in or registering to apps or websites. Alternatively, Apple helps generate a random throwaway email address for your use if Apple ID isn't accepted, helping to mask your real email address.

Email Relay is not exactly the newest trick in the book. Even without Firefox's add-on, you can create and manage EDMs without creating multiple email addresses on Gmail. To do so, simply add a little plus sign (+) to the end of your personalised email address, along with a string of alphabets or numbers to identify where the future emails will likely originate.

For instance, if your email address edgy13yearoldusername@gmail.com, you could make it edgy13yearoldusername+newsletter@gmail.com when registering your email for newsletters or website promotions. Despite it being addressed to those inboxes, your original edgy13yearoldusername@gmail.com will still receive those emails and EDMs.

When you want to start filtering emails based on their origin, simply create a Gmail filter, and start sorting. You could send mail from edgy13yearoldusername+newsletter@gmail.com to a special folder so that it doesn't clutter your inbox, or even straight-up delete it for Gmail.

The only downside to this method? It doesn't entirely hide your original email address like how Mozilla's Private Relay does since the Firefox add-on generates random email addresses to receive mail on your behalf before it forwards your mail.

The add-on is available for installation via this page or this page (requires Firefox browser).

Source: Mozilla (1, 2), ZDNet