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How can I make myself less identifiable from my email address? I currently have my own domain name so my email is myname@mydomain.com. As you can look up who a domain is registered too this must be one of the worst ways. Are gmail or any of the big providers any better?

  • you can use domain privacy settings to hide your contact details when you register the domain – schroeder Sep 28 '17 at 11:04
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    what do you mean 'less identifiable'? can you define this a little more? – schroeder Sep 28 '17 at 11:05
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Less identifiable by whom? By public? By government? By Google? By people you chat with? Those are all different answers.

You can't hide by yourself, you have to hide in a group

Imagine the difference between googling someone like "Pablo Escobar" or someone like "Jonh Smith". How many john smiths you know?

What if you make your email address jsmith@example.org instead of john.smith.1963@example.org?

Consider using a privacy-centric provider

Google? Nah, I wouldn't go with a provider which doesn't allow me to use nicknames anymore if I wanted privacy.

I'd go with RiseUp, ProtonMail or others.

Pay attention to what you tell others

- Hi! Do you have time to discuss this? blah-blah - Sorry, its too late, lets speak tomorrow.

Such an answer may reveal your location, for example.

Also, your email client or provider may be revealing your real IP address, which may then be used to determine the city you live in. You may check that.

Use math, logic and common sense

Do not make your email address public in your Facebook account, for example. There are too many things that can go wrong, and it really depends on your ability to think wisely.

We learn to speak for two years, but to remain silent - all our lives.

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Naturally using Gmail, Hotmail etc. are good ways to remove your identity from being as easily found however its more what you do with the email that makes you identifiable. So for example if you sign up to a website with that email and post comments, photos frequently, someone could piece together bits of information depending on what you post and the email doesn't make a difference. Changing the email as definitely a step in the right direction though as you can something like completelyanon@gmail.com.

Also worth noting that any information you use to signup may be viewable/searchable in one way or another as well e.g. first/last name.

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Protecting your real identity is a challenge, and for practical purposes can't be done 100% by everyday people. There is some level of trust being extended to service providers and also the people and places with whom you share your email address. While it is impossible to remove all points of trust on parties you don't control, it is possible to minimize the number of trust points and/or decide what entities you will trust and use only those.

Register your own domain, choose to hide the registration contact info from the public (usually costs a few bucks more), and stand up your own email server and set your MX record of your domain to that email server.

Using any email server that is not under your own control is trusting the provider with your privacy. Opinions will vary on which providers you should trust. There are services that specifically aim to anonymize you to a degree, but still you are trusting that they live up to what they say and/or that they will not be compromised.

Still, your email server's IP address can be used to know where it is and from what ISP's address pool it comes, etc. Also, the email protocol traffic goes through your ISP, and from that one can potentially nail down what human being is behind that email address. For example, sending email "from" that email address from your IP address, your ISP (or someone who has compromised them) can determine what human is sending that email.

You can improve upon these weaknesses by using a VPN, and putting your email server behind that VPN connection. But that would entail dealing with the dynamic IP address that you get from that VPN provider and updating your MX record etc. when that changes. A lot of work and at the end of the day, you are still trusting the VPN provider is doing what they say and isn't going to be compromised.

Even if you go to these extents, anywhere you go and give that email address to anyone there is the potential for that person or site to be used to correlate you as the person behind that email.

So really, to achieve email address personal identification you need to run your own email server, under your own domain, through an IP address that can't be traced, and even if you pull all that off you can't give that email address to anyone who knows who you are (real name, physical address, etc.)

The SMTP protocol was not designed to be secure or private. It has been evolved to greatly increase security/privacy, but if you need to communicate electronically in a completely secure or private manner, SMTP is not the best choice.

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