The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is a standards development group for the advertising industry. Their members love tracking users. They want to know where you are, who you’re with, what you’re buying, and what you think. All so they can convince you to spend slightly more on toothpaste. Or change your political opinions. Either way, they are your adversaries.

The IAB’s tech lab is working on a system called UID2. It’s a more advanced way to track you no matter what you do and no matter what steps you take to avoid it.

UID2 is a framework that enables deterministic identity for advertising opportunities on the open internet for many participants across the advertising ecosystem. The UID2 framework enables logged-in experiences from publisher websites, mobile apps, and Connected TV (CTV) apps to monetize through programmatic workflows.

Basically, they tie your email address to everything you do. Signed in to watch a TV show? Better sell that info to the advertisers so when you sign in to a different site they can send you targetted messages. Yuck.

One of the ways privacy conscious users normally avoid this is by subtly altering their email addresses for each service they use. For example, GMail ignores any dots in your username. So if you are you can also use or A user might sign up to a service and use a specifically “dotted” email address. If they later start receiving spam to that address, they know the service has leaked or sold their info.

You can go one step further and use plus addressing. For example and They both will appear in your normal inbox, but are unique for every service you use. Again, this is great for making sure that someone hasn’t sold your email address to spammers.

The IAB hates this.

As part of the UID2 API they specifically describe how an advertiser must “normalise” their users’ email addresses.

This means becomes plain old

I think this is pretty shitty behaviour. If someone has deliberately set their email address in this form it is because the user does not want their identities to be commingled.

Last year, I asked them to respect users’ privacy and reverse this change. They finally responded:

Thank you for your input, we thought long about this update and ultimately as it stands today it is not a change we would like to add.

So, there you have it. If you want to take even the smallest step to preserve your privacy – tough.

If you want to track which IAB members are using your data – tough.

If you want to track users even if they don’t want to be tracked – the IAB is happy to help.

If you want to opt out of this – and you trust the IAB to handle your data safely – you can submit your email address and phone number to

Personally, I recommend installing the uBlock advert blocker on all devices which support it.

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