Consumers are seeing more and more ads popping up on their computers and mobile devices.  Sometimes they’ve requested this kind of information but other times they don’t know how or why they’re getting these unsolicited ads.

One way these ads happen is because of unique identifiers in web traffic sent by phones and other mobile devices.  This information can be misused by ad networks to track consumers online activities.  The really bad news is that consumers can’t turn off these types of unique identifiers.  What does this mean? It means ad networks can be tracking consumers regardless of whether consumers have tried to protect their privacy via their privacy browsing settings or being on “Do Not Track” lists.

The good news is that AT&T had been experimenting with these types of unique identifiers but has discontinued doing so. Robert McMillan recently reported that news (, “AT&T Stops Using Invasive ‘Perma-Cookies,’ But It May Turn Them Back On”; November 14).

The bad news is that Mr. McMillan reports that Verizon is still using these unique identifiers.  It would be welcome news if Verizon decided to stop using unique identifiers but consumers should be optimistic about that happening.