No, this isn’t about the NSA reading your boring e-mails about what you’re doing Friday Night or the latest video you think might go viral. This is about your friends (or maybe not) not only getting to see if you read their mail, but knowing who opened it and precisely where you opened it, without permission from you.
Sound a bit creepy? Yes, to us too.
A Google Chrome extension for G-Mail (also available for Safari) does just that. Enter Streak. You install the extension in your browser, give it access to your g-mail and that’s it. It’s currently free to use while it’s in Beta and as they continue to work on it, and your recipient doesn’t have to have it installed on the other end. Once installed, all of your outgoing mail will then provide you with read receipts, maps etc.
From what I can gather so far, there is no real way to block this as the recipient or get knowledge that it’s there, so far that is. Some say blocking images in your mail may do it, others say an AdBlock extension for Chrome, blocking Streak itself may do it. In the meantime, most are complaining to Google about it being a privacy issue. So far, Google has not responded as Streak is a third party extension, not one of their own. Information gathered from the internets say they believe the way your information gets tracked is by images attached to the e-mails sent. Small blank images that are able to show where it’s loaded and by whom. This then is sent back to the sender, with a who and where, including a pinned map of your location.
“Read Receipt” has been around for a long, long time of course, your boss wanting to know whether you read his e-mail etc. The difference here seems to be the recipient having no knowledge first, not being able to make a choice whether to read the e-mail or not, AND the map. The map itself is a potential stalkers dream come true.
There are more extensions out there just like this, but this one, being free, seems to be gaining some attention.
Here is a video of the extension in action brought to you by Mashable.