How to stop email tracking using Gmail

By Elijah Odhiambo

Google recently introduced a new tool of email tracking or link tracking, which allows you to see when and where the emails you send are opened. Gmail provides an email tracking function that enables you to track any emails you
have sent.

Email tracking has been a useful and legitimate tool, but now it’s being misused by spammers, phishers, and just plain nosy people. Free, user-friendly tracking software may also be contributing to this widespread data harvesting.

While tracking tools and methods are numerous and always evolving, the most common types are tracking pixels (also known as web beacons) and link tracking.

A tracking pixel is a practically invisible, 1×1 pixel image that downloads from the web when an HTML email is opened; the details of this download (time, IP address, etc.) are then gathered by the email tracking software.

According to Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Link tracking, also called “link shimming,” is “the practice of hiding URLs in emails for tracking purposes.”

Additional code is added to the beginning and end of a web address the user wants to reach, redirecting the link through another URL and gathering additional contextual data.

Tracking your email behavior while using services like Gmail is an invasion of privacy on the part of advertisers and marketers. Although most email companies contain safeguards against email monitoring, these features are not always turned on and are not user-friendly.

Marketers use email tracking as a tool to examine your behavior and display adverts that are relevant to you. The sender will be informed when an email contains unnoticed tracking pixels in images or links.

Follow the instructions below to discontinue email tracking on your Gmail account if that sounds intrusive and violates your privacy.

1. To disable email tracking in the Gmail mobile app, tap the hamburger menu at the top-left corner and select “Settings”.

2. After setting settings, Choose the email account you want to disable tracking pixels on, scroll down until you find the “Images” section, and tap on it.

3. Choose “Ask before displaying external images” radio button, and you are all set.

4.Scroll down to the bottom and click “Save changes” to confirm the changes. With this setting, the Gmail app will no longer display images by default to protect you from hidden email trackers.

Going forward, Gmail will not automatically display the images, saving you from predatory tracking pixels in marketing emails in the process.

So, there you have it. Following the steps outlined above will protect you from pesky emails prying on you with trackers in Gmail.

Email tracking can expose sensitive information to third parties and sometimes even others on your network.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) researchers found that much of the data
gathered by tracking pixels and links is transmitted over unsecure, unencrypted HTTP (that is, not HTTPS), exposing personal information to attackers.


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