PRIVACY Companies can know the opening time of an email, the type of device used or the recipient’s IP address
Two-thirds of emails received in our personal inbox are accompanied by a tracking pixel, according to the company Hey. This is what emerges from a study commissioned by the BBC in which all e-mails were analyzed, except spam e-mails. These are small 1×1 pixel images saved in PNG or GIF formats, which are inserted into the header, footer or body of an email.
It allows businesses and advertisers to collect information about their recipients, explains Phonandroid. In the case of a newsletter, for example, the sender can know the date and time the email was opened, on which device the operation was carried out and on how many times.
It can even know the user’s IP address and approximate geographic address. All these elements make it possible to feed a customer base. If the big tech companies are not taking part in the phenomenon, it is the case of British Airways, Vodafone, HSBC, Marks & Spencer, Tesco for example.
Misuse of the tracking pixel is prohibited
Two texts regulate the use of web beacons: the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (Pecr) of 2003, and the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD) of 2016. Companies that use this tracking method must normally do so. inform the target and ask for their consent
To escape spy pixels, Hey offers a tool, but it pays off. It is also possible to install free plug-ins dedicated to email software or webmail services such as Ugly Email or PixelBlock, says Phonandroid.
The most drastic solution is to configure your software to block all images by default or to display emails as plain text.