Checking To See If Someone Read Your Email
from the yeah,-but-how-does-it-work... dept
USA Today is talking about a new service called DidTheyReadIt that claims it can tell you whether or not anyone is opening emails that you've sent, how long they spend with the emails and whether or not they forward them on. It's a for-fee service that requires you to send all of your email through their server. Basically, you append a didtheyreadit.com to the end of every email that you send, and their server does whatever black magic it does and passes the email on - at which point you can track it. Jeremy Wagstaff has been writing about them over the past few days and expressed plenty of concerns over the offering. He already uses a similar product - but which lets you clearly tell people that you're tracking what they do with the email. He's also worried about the company, especially since their other products are all about spying on people as well - such as a keylogger. Would you trust such a company to have all of your email on their server? The founder of DidTheyReadIt replied to him in two separate parts that do little to ease the concerns. This is the type of thing that people are (as the USA Today article points out) likely to flip out about - at the same time many will be intrigued to use it themselves. The thing that I wonder about, however, is how does it actually work? I'm guessing it needs to stick some sort of HTML bug into the email - a popular trick among spammers to determine whether or not you've opened their email and are "a live one." Of course, these days, you simply shouldn't use HTML email - at least not initially until you know a message is "safe." So, despite the fact that the service claims it works on "all" email systems, I wonder how well it actually works on anyone who avoids HTML-based emails. With new email systems like Gmail which smartly make anyone go through an extra step to view HTML-based email (though, they should set up rules to allow HTML email from a certain address), others may follow suit - especially if people get concerned about services like DidTheyReadIt.