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ProtonMail rolls out new privacy tools to curb ‘spy pixel’ menace

ProtonMail rolls out new privacy tools to curb ‘spy pixel’ menace
Photo Credit: Pixabay
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ProtonMail said it has rolled out two new features as an upgrade to its email privacy that includes blocking tracking pixels and hiding IP address from third parties.    

Tracking pixels is commonly found in newsletters and promotional emails. As the name suggests, it is a 1X1 pixel graphic that is used to track user behaviour, web traffic, site conversions and similar metrics.   

“Today, we’re happy to introduce enhanced tracking protection, a feature that will provide an additional layer of privacy to your inbox. Now you can read your emails without letting advertisers watch you, build a profile on you, or serve you ads based on your mail activity,” said ProtonMail in a blog post. 

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The Swiss company was founded in 2013 by former scientists from the CERN research facility. The company’s main USP is that all of the data on its servers are encrypted, which means that neither employees of the company or hackers could theoretically read private emails.   

How does email tracking work?   

While there aren’t many studies conducted on email tracking, a report by email intelligence company OMC way back in 2017 claimed that over 40% of the emails sent are tracked.   

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A February report last year by BBC said that the pixel tracking systems on emails had become an ‘endemic’, and the feature was being widely used by many large brands, while the marketers who support the strategy claimed that it was a common tactic, which is apparently clearly mentioned in most privacy policies.   

What information do spy pixels collect?  

Data such as when you opened an email, how many times you opened it, the devices involved and the location and IP address of the user at the time.   

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What else can they do?  

“The gathered data is sent to the email sender, all without your consent. Email trackers can sometimes even expose your information to third parties, allowing them to track you across the web and connect your online activity to your email address,” the statement added.