February 13, 2020
Apple Rethinks Privacy With Hide My Email
Email is at the heart of your online identity. We use it everywhere — to log in to our banks, our health records, and even our social networks. But why do I have to give my email address to all these companies who can then turn around and spam me for life?
Apple has a clever solution to this problem. And most of us don't know about it.
It generates a new email address for you for every app and every website. But you could do that yourself, so how’s this different?
You get to generate all these email addresses and still continue to use your existing email address at Gmail, Outlook, or even Yahoo or Hotmail. It acts as a trusted middleman. That shoe shopping app can still send you emails — Apple gets them and sends them over to you — without knowing your real email address.
In this article, we will cover two things:
And get to know the magic.
How Does This Work for Users?
When you sign up for a new app, Apple ID shows up as an option in all Apple app store apps*. It looks like this:
All you do is select Hide My Email.
How Does This Work Technically Behind the Scenes?
Apple is essentially using a technique similar to tokenization — generating a new token email for each app. The apps can still recognize you, allow you to log in, and even send emails to you.
All these emails from this app are now tied to a new unique email address, and if you ever decide to stop receiving the emails, you can just stop emails to this token email address.
Apple will stop forwarding those emails to you — essentially those emails disappear.
No need to keep hitting those annoying unsubscribe buttons.
Your Real Email Address Can’t be Sold by the App Now
Many of us wonder, who is this app sharing my email address with? When I get those dating and male enhancement emails, who sold them my email address?
With this new feature, even if an app vendor is unethical and sells your email address , it's not of much use.
Behind the scenes, Apple is asking the developers of these apps and websites to register the exact email servers (domains) they will be using. And only those email servers can send to the forwarding service.
Clean Email and Privacy Forever?
If all the apps and websites in the world switch to this model (or similar from other companies if and when they make them available) we would eliminate a lot of spam and phishing.
The end user would essentially control who can email them.
Isn’t that what we all want?
The author is cofounder and CEO of Skyflow, which is building a similar platform for every other company that wants be more like Apple and do the right thing for user privacy.