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05/20/2004 Archived Entry: "New "service" lets senders track e-mail right into your home"

DIDTHEYREADIT.COM. A new "service" allows senders to track their e-mails right into your home. Pat (thank you for making my day, girl) send a USA Today article that says:

DidTheyReadIt.com, which will launch Monday, allows anyone to secretly track e-mails they send. You'll see whether someone opens your e-mail, how long the recipient keeps it open even where geographically the recipient is reading it. ...

In most cases, the site will be able to tell you the city where the e-mail was read though not the specific address. It can also tell you if the recipient forwarded the e-mail (though not to whom it was sent), and whether it was read by the people to whom it was forwarded.

The part about "where it's read, geographically" is the really big kicker. No matter what excuses you could make to legitimize the rest of the process, that's simply snooping for snooping's sake. It's just another of those "because we can" acts of surveillance that have become so common lately.

According to the "service's" own Web site, subscribers are notified automatically. Each time the message is re-opened, either by the original recipient or by anyone it's forwarded to, the DidTheyReadIt.com subscriber is notified again. All this is supposedly invisible to the recipients.

All is not bleak, though. We can still get a laugh, even out of this. In DidTheyReadIt.com's FAQ, this question appears: "Does DidTheyReadIt contain any spyware?"

The answer is, "No. We respect the privacy of our users."

Uh huh.

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NOTE: A good discussion about how this snooping is done and how to foil it is currently underway on this thread at The Claire Files forums. I tell you, those folks there ... they are the best.

Brad Rodriguez also figured out very quickly how to foil these snoops. They're just using an old spammer's trick, and people who follow elementary e-mail precautions should be able to evade it.

Interesting that DidTheyReadIt.com makes this broad claim of being able to track anybody's mail reading, when in fact it appears they can mainly track the mail habits of careless people.

Posted by Claire @ 09:14 AM CST
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