ProtonMail wants to stop you being tracked online via email

Close up of a person touching an email icon.
(Image credit: Geralt / Pixabay)

Privacy-oriented email provider ProtonMail has introduced a new feature that looks to prevent advertisers from tracking users reading their emails.

The ‘enhanced tracking protection’ blocks tracking pixels commonly found in newsletters and promotional emails, and hides the users’ IP addresses from third parties, keeping their location private. 

Tracking pixels, the company explains, obtain plenty of user data, including when the email was opened, how many times it was opened, which devices were used to read the contents of the email, as well as the reader’s IP address. All this data is gathered, and sent, without user consent, ProtonMail adds, saying that the problem grows that much bigger when this information gets exposed to third parties. In that case, the user can be tracked across the web, and its online activities linked to their email address, further shaping their internet profile

Raising online tracking awareness

ProtonMail says email tracking is a widespread issue, with more than 40% of emails sent and received daily being used for this form of digital surveillance. 

With enhanced tracking protection, ProtonMail promises, users can continue subscribing to newsletters and registering for new online accounts, and still get a better, more private email experience. 

The feature is enabled by default on the web app. 

Consumers seem to be aware of the tracking, though. A recent survey by VPN provider NordVPN has shown that the majority of Americans believe their online activities are being tracked by someone. While the majority of those (60%) believe cybercriminals are the ones following them around the digital realm, a third (34%) are worried about brands and advertising agencies, as well as information and advertising aggregators such as Google (40%).

To avoid being tracked online, you should always use a VPN if you absolutely must connect to public Wi-Fi though using cellular data is a much safer bet if you want to protect your privacy and keep your data out of the hands of third parties and even snooping cybercriminals.

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.