French privacy authority forbids mail-service

By EDRi · June 30, 2004

The French data protection authority CNIL has declared the new U.S. mail-service ‘Did they read it?’ illegal. Through this service, launched in May 2004 by Rampell Software, subscribers get a report about the exact time their e-mail was opened, for how long, on what kind of operating system and if the mail was forwarded to other people. To use this service, subscribers simply forward their mail to Rampell, after which a one-pixel gif is added that allows for this kind of tracking. Rampell carefully avoids explaining the technology, and just promises that e-mails are being kept confidential.

The CNIL finds the service unacceptable under the French privacy legislation of 1978. The recipients do not have a choice to accept or refuse sending this information to the sender and aren’t even informed. Because the service provides detailed information on the reading behaviour, the data are considered sensitive, and the collection illegal.

Any French subscriber to this service risks a prison sentence of 5 years and a fine of 300.000 euro.

Did they read it? : mise en garde de la CNIL contre le courriel espion (22.06.2004)[uid]=177&cHash=5f39b9474d

Rampell ‘Did they read it?’

Richard Smith information website about web bugs