TMBA 380: Who is Tracking You?

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Podcast 28:07 | Download | Stitcher | iTunes | Comment

Dan and Ian have talked many times on this podcast about how the best ideas often come from ‘scratching your own itch’, or finding solutions for problems that you are experiencing.

Lately, Dan has had a very specific itch. Email tracking software has really been getting on Dan’s nerves. So much so that he even wrote a recent blog post about how much it’s upsetting him.

Enter Sonny Tulyaganov. Sonny was feeling some of the very same frustrations with email tracking software that Dan has been experiencing. But Sonny decided to do something about it. He developed a browser plugin called Ugly Email, which allows you to see who is tracking your email.

On this week’s show, you’ll hear the history of how Sonny developed this plugin, and startling revelations about just how much of the information in your inbox is at risk.


Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • How Sonny first found out about email tracking software. (4:56)
  • How much access a browser plugin could theoretically have to someone’s information. (7:55)
  • Whether Ugly Email has changed the way that people use email. (14:10)
  • Why Sonny has turned down many offers from potential partners and investors. (18:23)
  • What he believes the future looks like for his plugin. (22:45)

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST. Cheers, Dan & Ian

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Published on 03.16.17
  • We are actually working on a platform that uses behavioral analysis and tracking to make website adapt to the visitors so in our research we of course have run into this issue of tracking and privacy…

    In talking to others who have been in this space longer what we have seen is that most of them say ‘the pixel is dead’ (meaning it will be phased out.. everybody says different time spans)..

    But everybody is keeping quite on what is next (lot of secrecy and some just don’t know).. because the internet does not function without tracking.. it just doesn’t no matter how privacy sensitive you are.

    So it took a lot of fishing and some hard usage of our brains but we believe the secrecy people and companies and hinting at….

    drum roll: ‘the block chain’. (the technology on which bitcoin also relies)

    And it makes perfect sense and a win-win situation for both advertisers and consumer. We are still doing more research into the existing upcoming companies and solutions but it looks very promising.

  • Evaldas Miliauskas

    Tracking for personal use is just a tip of the iceberg, when we take all the industry these days that got built up commercial and goverment it’s pretty staggering. One book I’ve listed to recently “Data and Goliath” goes a bit more into the detail of the state of privacy. The problem I think is that not many people are aware or care of their information being tracked, themselves being part of mass surveilance or inside a “social” experiment without any consent. Goverment institutions like NSA, CIA (based on just leaked documents last week) and others are probably the biggest proponents of these practises, while big companies just try to use it for their personal gain, no wonder “free” for Gmail, Facebook or other tools we use have a underlying cost which is your data.
    The biggest risk I see is having all this data collected about the person and then someone in power could potentially draw new lines between “good” and “bad”. This is especially true for other than western countries who already today filter out some content that doesn’t agree on their politics or just critics the leaders. Unfortunatly it’s very hard to change this trend without really massive change in how we care for our privacy and security online.

  • This episode was really eyeopening.

    I have a question for Sonny: how would you evaluate the Chrome Plugins you install? I’ve always tried avoiding unnecessary ones and was always hesitant to press that button when they request their permissions, but honestly I haven’t really given it much thought. So, is there a non-technical way of vetting them?

  • Would anybody love the irony if Yesware bought Ugly Mail and reaped both upsides of the controversy? ;);)
    In all seriousness, great podcast. Lots of stuff to think about.

  • Anthony Toussaint

    Ok so I downloaded ugly email as soon as I finished your podcast to see who was tracking me… Well turns out the TMBA mastermind emails I was getting are being tracked? lol.

  • Anthony Toussaint

    Ok sorry, I think I know why. Mailchimp tracks email opens right? Cause I just saw the one of the emails I had sent myself from my mailchimp account has a tracking pixel.

  • heh cheers Nate thanks for listening

  • yeah that’s right, this is a marketing email that you can opt-in and opt-out of (and that you signed up for, I hope!) The metaphor we used in the show is that this is like a newspaper company asking the delivery boy “are the papers piling up on their doorstep our that subscriber?”

    it’s not quite the same, but I feel differently about automated/product/marketing emails than personal ones, but I agree there’s some ambiguity there.

    Perhaps it’s worth exploring even turning this option off on our marketing emails? We only rarely use the information (and example is we’ll send more information only to people who’ve opened previous emails, and thereby expressing interest in that subject).

  • hmmm….. fascinating.

  • cheers thanks for the book mention.

  • will ask!

  • Anthony Toussaint

    Yeah I understand your tracking is a lot different then the one described on the show. As someone in ecommerce myself, I understand the different use for tracking but I wished you could see what kind of tracking is being done by the sender.

  • Hey Daniel,

    It is really hard to distinguish a malware extension. I would start by just looking at the permissions of each plugin you have installed. Also, try sticking to extensions from more reliable and known providers.

    I hope this helps,


  • Adrian Edlington


  • Why Sonny has turned down many offers from potential partners and investors?

  • amazing !

  • marvelous.

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