(left- Alistair Rampell, whose software company developed a program that can tell when and where an e-mail message has been read.)
A NEW service promises to pull back the curtain on anyone hiding behind the common white lie “I never got your e-mail.” Users of the service, DidTheyReadIt (didtheyreadit.com), can clandestinely track when and where their e-mail is read.
The service, which has already drawn complaints from privacy advocates, offers a new and quiet way to harvest behavioral information about friends, colleagues and potential consumers.
“There’s a type of covert surveillance here,” said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit privacy advocacy group. “Just from a technology viewpoint, it’s basically an evil service.”
E-mail programs like Eudora and Outlook have long offered an optional return-receipt feature, which prompts the recipient of a message to inform the sender that they have opened the message, and another service, Msgtag (www.msgtag.com), notifies users by e-mail when their outgoing messages have been opened. But DidTheyReadIt is the first such service to keep itself a secret from the recipient, as well as the first to report on where the message was read. (full story)