Did They Read It?

There seems to be a lot of controversy lately surrounding didtheyreadit.com. This company adds a webbug to your outgoing messages so that when the message is opened the web browser will open the webbug and signal the message as read. This is much more powerful than the standard return receipt because the return receipt requires the mail server or the mail client software to cooperate and return the receipt. Often by default the user is told of the return receipt request and they can say yes or no. Didtheyreadit.com attempts to signal back without the user being aware.
The can fail to work for a number of reasons.
1. Perhaps you have a personal firewall that blocks HTTP connections from the email client.
2. Perhaps you are running a text based mail client that will not load images.
3. Perhaps you are running Outlook 2003 which does not load images from non-trusted users by default.
Also who really wants to run all their mail through a untrusted server just to have them add the webbug in? If its important enough to get a return receipt, why trust it to a unknown third party.
But I didn’t really write this article to discuss the features and drawbacks of didtheyreadit.com. That really isn’t important to me.
I am amazed by the flurry of articles surrounding this product. The privacy nuts are out in full force. Imagine, a sender knowing when their email was read. What an outrage. Also the Linux zealots are also printing articles about how their text mail reader of choice doesn’t rat out when your email was read. I
This is nothing new, and its getting way to much press. If this continues a couple more days, I suspect congress will pass a law against it. Probably in CAN-SPAM part 2. That is if they haven’t already recessed for the summer.
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2004-05-20-email_x.htm
http://arstechnica.com/news/posts/1085359926.html
http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/05/23/2146200