‘Spy pixels in emails have become endemic’

An email app has revealed that two-thirds of the messages it reviews contain hidden tracking pixels. Tracking pixels are tiny invisible images embedded by link within images, but stored on a remote server. When emails are opened, the email application makes a request to the remote server, giving the sender information about who is viewing its emails and when.

Email pixels can also be used to log a receipient’s IP address, from which marketers can derive the user’s geographical location.

The use of tracking pixels is governed by GDPR across Europe, which in many circumstances requires advertisers to gain consent from users before tracking them.

Pat Walshe from Privacy Matters argues that the law is clear on the matter and all that is needed is enforcement.

A spokesperson for TalkTalk said that they use tracking pixels, and regarded it as common practice across their industry and others.