Andrew Milich / 1.15.2023Home / news

Block trackers and remote content on Skiff Mail

Starting today, all Skiff Mail users on every plan can disable remote content loading by default in their inbox.
Blurred and pixellated images.
Blocking remote content limits the amount of information marketers could discern about whether your emails are being opened and read. To enable remote content blocking on any Skiff Mail application (web, desktop, or mobile), visit settings, and then the “security” section. Toggle “block remote content” to be enabled.

What is remote content?

Remote content is any data - images, fonts, or style sheets - that is not contained within the email body itself. Many emails contain only text - a few sentences sent to a contact, or a series of question and answer replied. However, marketing emails, sales emails, and cold outreach emails frequently contain remote content (images, tracking pixels, or other data loaded from an external URL) that can be used to track users.As described in our technical blog about tracking pixels, this content can be used to determine open rates, mail deliverability, and more information for email marketers. In some cases, remote content can leak or reveal device information, IP address, or other highly sensitive personal information.Skiff Mail built to be a comprehensive, privacy-first solution to protect your personal data and confidentiality. Thus, beyond end-to-end encryption keeping your email content and subjects private to you, blocking any sort of remote tracking is critical to user privacy.

How is remote content used to track you?

Remote content is hosted on an external server and not contained within the email content itself. For example, a heading image hosted on another site or a font required to render an email could be hosted by the company sending the email to your inbox.All of this remote content requires your inbox to make a download request to the third party hosted content to properly render the email. In some cases, emails can be composed almost entirely of remote content, making it impossible to read mail without rendering this data.However, the server hosting this content could easily implement tracking technology to observe when this content is downloaded. As a result, the email sender could observe and track when emails are opened by knowing when external content is downloading.We’ve covered more information on how emails can be used to track you in our blog on tracking pixels and browser fingerprinting. By disabling all remote content loading by default, these requests are not sent to download content until you click the download button, giving you more control over your email privacy.

How else does Skiff Mail protect your inbox?

Skiff Mail is privacy-first, end-to-end encrypted email that keeps your inbox private to you. All mail sent to other Skiff users is completely end-to-end encrypted, including both email subject and content. Furthermore, mail sent or received externally is encrypted with your account’s public key, ensuring that only you - and no one else, not even Skiff - have access to your messages.Blocking and proxying remote content downloads adds another layer of intuitive, simple privacy protections to your inbox. While most large mail providers, including Yahoo, Gmail, and Outlook, do not even offer this option, Skiff Mail makes privacy simple and accessible, keeping you in control of your data.To enable remote content blocking, visit the mail security settings tab and toggle “Block remote content” to the enabled position. Then, whenever an email contains remote content, you’ll see a button at the top to download it when you choose.


Is blocking remote content available on the Free plan?Yes! All Skiff Mail users can enable remote content blocking from the Security settings tab.Can you block remote content on mobile?Yes. You can enable remote content blocking on any of the Skiff Mail apps on iOS, Android, and macOS.Once loading remote content, are my device and location revealed?No. Once you choose to load remote content, it is still proxied through a relay server to prevent any information about your device, IP address, location, or other personal information from being shared.

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