On Not | Mo Chit

May 23, 2004

Did they read it junkbutton.png Slashdot has a post about a new email service called DidTheyReadIt.com which allows you to send an email, and then be able to track when, where, and for how long their recipient read the email.

DidTheyReadIt.com linked to a USA Today article as part of the favorable press coverage section. The article had the following to say:
Rampell Software CEO Alex Rampell says he's braced for controversy. "It can be used inappropriately, but our intentions are good," he says.

The tracking service could be used by job hunters who want to see if their résumés were read, or by salespeople wanting to track pitches. Today's spam filters can sometimes block e-mail sent with attachments, leaving the sender thinking an e-mail got through when it didn't. This is a way to check. "It can be useful peace of mind to know people got your e-mail," Rampell says.
Ironically, all the of supposedly good purposes for using DidTheyReadIt still sound pretty slimy. How can you with a straight face tell me that this software will benefit me, salespeople, and headhunters all in the same breath?

The claim that you can verify that the email wasn't chewed up my some span filter is probably the most plausible excuse for this software. However, I'm sure these guys, if they have half a brain, have already figured what I just realized now: What if the spammers started using this software to track and profile who received their spam? Big bucks for them, and more spam for me.

Outlook and other mail clients have had different forms of this feature for a long time now. People at the company that I used to work for used this fairly frequently. I setup a special folder for emails with tracking just so that I can purposely delay responding to those emails.

The same kind of people who would use this feature are those who currently send an email and then immediately call to make sure you've received and read the email. Except with this service, they'll be able to be a little more covert with their harassment.

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