Part of the Email and messaging glossary:

DidTheyReadIt is an e-mail nonrepudiation program that uses a Web bug to determine whether the recipient of an HTML e-mail message has viewed it and report information back to the sender, typically without the recipient's knowledge.

The DidTheyReadIt program tracks e-mail messages, and provides the sender with the following data:

  • The date and time when the message is opened
  • How many times the message was opened
  • Whether the message is forwarded
  • The length of time the message is allowed to remain open
  • The geographic location of the server or computer where the message is received.

The program works by embedding a Web bug image in HTML code within the body of the message. Measuring just 1 pixel by 1 pixel in size, the image is too small to be seen by the recipient. Because they rely on Web bugs, DidTheyReadIt and similar tracking programs can only track HTML messages.

DidTheyReadIt has legal advantages in situations where it is necessary to ensure that a party has opened a transmitted e-mail message. However, this and similar e-mail nonrepudiation programs are controversial because cracker s and spammers can use them to gather private information from unsuspecting e-mail recipients.

This was last updated in April 2006
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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