|Hewlett-Packard Co. admitted several years ago to using Web bugs to spy on reporters during an internal investigation of news media leaks by board members.|
There’s some buzz right now about whether or not HTML email is so insecure that it’s never a good idea. That means that Web bugs are back in the news. If you missed the HP story the first time around, a company rep testified in front of a House of Representatives subcommittee about bugging emails to find corporate leaks to the press. They used a service called readnotify.com
ReadNotify’s service makes bugging e-mail a matter of pointing and clicking. The ReadNotify Web page will generate a document with an image. This image, a green check mark, can simply be dragged and dropped into the document that needs to be traced. The check mark becomes transparent after being dropped.
Web bugs aren’t illegal. Marketers use them to track email blasts to see how many emails were actually opened and synchronize browser cookies so a returning visitor gets served relevant ads.