Forget the NSA: Google has enabled a level of internet spying, and it’s aimed at your e-mail inbox.

A Google Chrome extension dubbed Streak allows the user to see when e-mails are viewed by the recipient — without their knowledge.

The Streak website boasts the Gmail tracking capability (Image via Streak.com)

The Streak website boasts the Gmail tracking capability (Image via Streak.com)

In other words, when installed by someone who sends you an eamil, Streak allows that person to see that you have opened their email without responding.

“Streak email tracking shows the status of all your tracked emails right in your inbox. You’ll see a green or gray ‘eye’ icon right next to any email in any inbox list telling you whether the email is being read or not,” reads the Streak website.

The Chrome extension reveals a green eyeball when the recipient has viewed the e-mail (Image via HuffPost).

The Chrome extension reveals a green eyeball when the recipient has viewed the e-mail (Image via HuffPost).

This might sound a lot like the function in Microsoft Outlook where a sender can ask for a “read receipt,” but according to Huffington Post, an email recipient doesn’t have to have the plugin installed in order for the sender to be notified that it was opened. The recipient won’t get any notification that their e-mail activity is being tracked.

It’s all very secretive.

Google has restricted other extensions in the past, such as local extensions in Chrome 33 for Windows and states that extension developers do have to follow a certain set of rules for the company to retain the extension. But Google relies on users to report back when an extension may – for example – links to “invasions of personal privacy or violations of the right of publicity.”

Streak is an independent company but with Google’s (at least passive) acceptance of the extension, the millions of Gmail users may be subject to the e-mail spying without ever agreeing to it.

Streak is a San Francisco based company which pitches the extension as a Customer Relations Management tool. “Streak was born out of the frustration of constantly having to switch between our inbox (where we do our work) and separate systems. Our goal is to take the work out of managing the processes you do everyday,” the Streak site states.

If Google Chrome users don’t like the idea of an extension spying on them unknowingly, they can give Google feedback by accessing the Streak page in the Chrome Web Store, click “details,” then, “send feedback.”

(H/T: Huffington Post)

Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.