News / Updates / Events — 03 March 2014

Bhagawati comments on the deplorable new Google Chrome extension

Streak frp Gmail cr Rupda

To say I am miffed is an understatement. The reason is the new Google Chrome extension called ‘Streak’. This free app allows the sender of an e-mail to see when his/her e-mail is viewed by the recipient. And here’s the major catch – this happens without the recipient’s knowledge!


The Huffington Post in their article on February 12, 2014 even calls this extension “horrifying” and comments, “We’re all doomed.”

As outlined on the app’s website, Streak email tracking shows the status of all tracked emails in the sender’s inbox. You’ll see a green or gray ‘eye’ icon right next to any email in the inbox, signalling whether the email is being read or not. With a click of the mouse, this app can be installed in a whiz. Spying made easy.


What a blatant invasion of privacy! Having already switched to a different web browser a while ago, I’ve been pondering about getting out of all things Google (including Gmail) but couldn’t quite face the pain of having to change all my subscriptions, inform all my friends and more. But this tipped the balance. I am out of there.

I have heard about a similar feature also on Facebook that allows a sender to see when someone has read one’s message.

Such policies are unacceptable to me. From now on I will think twice or more often if I even want to contact anyone who uses Gmail!

Humanity is being subjected to a worldwide spying system of which the NSA is only one branch. And yet millions of people voluntarily keep feeding those monstrous systems with so much information about themselves, which in turn allows ‘the system’ to control their lives. In my worst nightmares I envision a future robotic Moloch ruling this planet. Why aren’t people screaming?

I don’t know if I will fall through the cracks by leaving Gmail but at least my privacy might be a bit more protected.



What’s written in this article is a very old marketing tool – used for over 10 years already: you run a script on your mail doing a very simple thing: you add a little picture (usually a transparent gif sized 1×1 px) via http tag, name it uniquely and store the same pic on your server. Whenever the person views the picture it is being retrieved from the server. On server side its being tracked when it was downloaded, how many times etc. And: this works with ANY email address! You can prevent being tracked by disabling picture download in your email client. That’s it. There are many people out there with plotting theories. Some may have substance – this one definitely does not.