269 billion emails get sent and received every day. Nearly 40% of them are tracked.
Here’s why email tracking is scary, and how to stop it. For now.
According to radicati.com, 269 billion emails get sent and received every day. That’s over 35 emails for each of the 7.6 billion people on the planet. Every day. Nearly half of these are tracked by the sender.
Tracking is a useful marketing tool, often found in newsletters and promotional materials. Email readers these days cheerfully assume they’re being tracked when opening these types of documents.
No biggie, we knew that, right? Big companies like Mailchimp, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter are famous for tracking emails. And they would NEVER allow third-party sources to our data, right?
Email tracking isn’t just for giant companies and the third-party interests to whom they sell your data. Individuals can now track emails. This means that opening an email can be the same as leaving your digital front door open.
Here’s how they do it:
Pixels trackers use codes embedded (translation: hidden) in in 1×1 pixel images to track your email. Once opened, the tracker sends back information about the reader. It begins with the currently acceptable violation of privacy: email address, IP address.
But things quickly get ugly: other info can include the number of times opened, the device used, and the location in which the email was opened.
Free downloadable apps abound for regular folk who want to track emails. Think about it: the list could include strident parents, nosy grandparents, your boss on a Sunday night, that Tinder date that went wonky, political sites and some really bad people.
People working in high-security situations
Employees who don’t want to be tracked after work
People being stalked
Private individuals who want to stay that way
Anyone who doesn’t want to be tracked
What’s an emailer to do?
Like the insect-pesticide arms race, email tracking blockers are a step behind in the evolutionary process. Until coders come equipped with crystal balls, anti-tracking apps have to play follow-the-creeper.
Digital invasion doesn’t care if you live in a remote place where the cows outnumber the people or in the big city: if your door isn’t locked, hackers will come in.
- Ugly Mail informs inboxes that there is a tracking device within an email.
- PixelBlock blocks pixel trackers completely. (Ugly Mail and PixelBlock were created by the god of all trackers, Google)
- Senders removes the tracking device and alerts your inbox of a tracked mail.
- Use TOR
- Update everything regularly
- Be aware that free VPNs are unreliable. OF COURSE. How do you think they make money?
- Don’t open weird emails. Can’t resist? Resist. Don’t hover or right-click!
- Block images or configure settings to ask before showing them
- Be careful with whom you share your email account
In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to communicate or conduct commerce without an email address. It’s high time everybody started protecting this piece of information the same way we do our other personal info: mobile numbers, home addresses, location details.
Is your device listening to you? Probably. For more, check out Your Earbuds Are Listening to You