No, Google, you may not have my phone number

For years it seems, every time I log into gmail (or any of the other internet-based email providers: yahoo, hotmail, etc), they ask for my phone number so I can have the assurance of never losing access to my account. Pffft. Like I’m going to give you my phone number, Google. You know everything there is to know about me electronically, and you shamelessly file away every search I enter and save data on me.

Why should I give you the most intimate form of communication I have, that is used solely for friends, family and business associates to contact me – my phone number? Why? I can’t think of a single good reason I should willingly give it to you. Not that you can’t access it anyway, but you won’t get it from me.

In the past, when I have logged in, it gives me the option of entering my phone number or a backup email in the event of lost access. Not a tough choice there. I’ll give you my junk email account, no problem. NOT my digits. No way, no how.

Now, there is some “suspicious activity” on my account, and my gmail won’t load on my phone. I go to log in on my computer, and this is what I see (excuse me for the poor quality screenshot):


No more option to send a back up code to an email address. Enter my phone number, or I can’t verify my account. Very tricky Google. You’ve taken drastic measures to ensure that the last piece of private data I have is now in your possession, or we can’t play together anymore. That’s not very nice.

The account in question happens to be an older gmail account, one that I don’t use much anymore, except for Facebook notifications. So if I have to choose between surrendering my phone number or discarding this account, I chose the latter. I will not give up. Not yet. In this world, where electronic privacy is being eliminated more quickly than I care to think about, I will choose to maintain a white-knuckled grip on the few things over which I do have control. Namely, to whom I give my phone number.

To the very few who contact me at my old gmail address (hint: it is a nickname from my single days that uses part of my maiden name), it looks like I won’t be reachable there anymore. As for my current gmail address; should I ever lose access to that, well, I guess I’ll burn that bridge if I get there.

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