All of those nasty marketing emails that fill your inbox are not just a product. You can also track whether you opened the email, when you opened it, and where you were at the time by embedding tracking software in the message. Just type “email tracking” into your search engine and see how all software apps are displayed.
There are several ways to track email. One of the simplest is a redirect connection, for example. Suppose you click a link in a promotional email that leads to the page for a product that you want to buy. The link has been encoded so that it is traceable. It is transferred to another server with a variety of data, e.g. B. which browser you are using or from where you clicked on the link before you get to the article.
How does it work? A single tracking pixel is embedded in the email and is usually (but not always) hidden in an image or link. When the email is opened, the code within the pixel sends the information back to the company’s server.
Some attempts have been made to limit the amount of information that can be transmitted in this way. For example, Google has provided all images through its own proxy server since 2014, which may make your location hidden from some tracking applications. Extensions such as Ugly Mail and PixelBlock have been developed to block trackers in Chrome and Firefox. And there are alternative browsers that emphasize data protection, like Brave and the Tor browser.
There is also an easy step you can take to avoid most trackers: prevent your email from automatically loading images, as most of these pixels are hidden in images. You will not be able to avoid it everything the tracker that could be hidden in your email this way, but you will stop many of them.
Disable automatic loading of images on a computer
- Click the gear icon in the upper right corner.
- Click on “Show all settings”.
- On the General tab (the first), scroll down to Images.
- Select “Ask Before Viewing External Images.”
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes.”
Note that this also disables Gmail’s dynamic email feature, making email messages more interactive.
Disable automatic loading of images on a mobile device
- In the Gmail app, select the three-line icon in the top left corner.
- Scroll down and select “Settings”.
- Select the email account you want to repair.
- Scroll down and select “Images”.
- Select “Ask Before Viewing External Images (also disables dynamic email).”