A recent article in the widely-read UK interactive publication, The Register, calls out a growing concern of the EU government -- that the Web beacons used to track email opens may violate the privacy of EU citizens.
The EU government is currently focusing on the impact of the "Did They Read It?" service from Florida-based firm Rampell Software, but the implications are clear for email marketers. The EU Working Party on Data Protection -- a very influential group in driving EU law -- has ruled that measuring opens without the express consent of recipients violates their privacy. For the time being, this ruling is directional and can't be enforced. However, we all need to keep a close eye on this.
If this ruling becomes law, I hope the remedy will be as straightforward as including language around tracking opens in your opt-in policy. If not, image suppression may no longer be the largest challenge to tracking opens in Europe.