Private relay

Man, this is a utility that I could have used a long time ago and still wish I could use it today.

Today, it would be nice for all teachers to have access as well.

How many times have you signed up for a newsletter, download a piece of software, or wanted access to a web service and you’re asked to provide your email address? All the time, right? Then, in a lot of cases, you do your evaluation of things and decide that you’re no longer interested. But, the email keeps on coming. Sometimes, it’s even begging you to return. Or the worst, your original request to be removed was honoured but your email address has been sold to another entity who are bombarding your mailbox with something else.

Now, I have no hesitation whatsoever with someone that offers me a service, I like it, and I want to support it. It’s the abuse of my email address being used for something else that really bothers me.

Like most people, I have a few different email addresses for different purposes, including software testing.

In this day and age though, there are a lot of teachers looking for new and exciting ways to engage students and they’re trying out alternatives, only to find themselves on a never-ending mailing list. There are well-intentioned people that are providing links to this and links to that but, more often than not, an email address is required to access things.

Mozilla has announced a new service called Private Relay that may very well help you out in your quest to find the next great thing. The concept seems simple enough; whenever you visit a website that wants an email address, this extension will generate a “burner” email address on the fly.

This helps you meet the requirement that you provide an email address to access things and keeps you in touch with the server and your real email address safe.

While we could use this service right now, sadly it’s still in testing and you have to be invited to the party to be able to use it.

But, the concept really excites me. It’s definitely something that I would put to good use so I’m going to keep my eyes on the formal release to the general public.

And, the best thing, is that this project is open source which means that anyone can look at the code. Check it out here.

In the meantime, be wary of websites that offers lists of “great resources”. It’s easy to say, here’s a link, here’s a link, … The real value comes when the list maker gives you an indication of grade level and curriculum expectations that can be addressed by using the resource. Perhaps they should also give an indication if an email address is required in order to access that resource. That would help you protect your online identity and that’s always a good thing.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about providing an email address to online services. Do you have a safety strategy? Would this service from Mozilla be of use to you? Why or why not?

5 thoughts on “Private relay

  1. Good morning Doug!

    It’s interesting that you raise this question, and it’s also interesting that there are services out there that help deal with this. Last year at Apple‘s WWDC they announced a new service that would essentially provide this functionality–creating an alias email address that would be passed on to third parties while keeping your personal ID separate. I think it was announced as part of their “Login with Apple” option — similar to the existing “Login with Facebook” and “Login with Google” — avoiding, however, the data mining access/exchange that seems to come with using Facebook and Google for your authentication.

    I recall a conversation with my boys last summer following my retirement as I was disengaging from my Board email. It was quite a chore, after so many years of accumulation, either unsubscribing or repointing my various accounts to a new address. Imagine my surprise when the eldest asked, “don’t you have a spam email?” After a brief moment of understanding took place, I immediately wondered whether this was a logical generational solution to the question you and I are currently discussing. Had someone taught kids this strategy, or had it rather emerged as their response to being incessantly asked for an email every time they wanted to access something?

    Historically, my practice has been to honour the request for my email as an acceptable exchange for accessing information in which I have an interest. This practice is based on a factor of trust. I’m trusting that the service requires my email and I am granting that information based upon a measure of trust I have for the service.

    There have been times in the past when I created addresses specifically for receiving high-volume mailing lists or listservs — but the thought of creating an email address specifically for gaining access to sites that might subsequently spam the account has never been an intentional practice.

    It does seem, however, to be a very practical response that requires no third-party intervention.


  2. Doug, I could definitely use a service like this. Right now, I keep one email address for these kinds of emails, but it quickly becomes a lot to sort through. Curious to hear if others have found any workarounds to these emails.



Please share your thoughts here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.