Legitimate marketers use images in HTML mail to track how many people open the message. Spammers use them to verify addresses. Hotmail is now giving users the option of turning off images from senders who are not in their address book.

Legitimate marketers don’t like this one bit. InternetNews.com quotes one legitimate marketer who is clueless about why anyone would want this:

“If the objective of adding this feature is to reduce spam, it’s going to fail,” said Al DiGuido, chief executive of e-mail marketing firm Bigfoot Interactive. “We don’t think that any feature in or itself will end the [spam] problem.”

The direct marketing industry has dragged its feet at every step to limit their ability to sent us whatever they please whenever they please. I’ve been writing about this for years. Their unwillingness to help consumers address the spam problem will eventually make email useless as a marketing medium. And they will have only themselves to blame.