Dear Google 2021-03-08
I have a few Google based email accounts. I'm not proud of it, but I like to think I got them before Google turned in to the beast it is today. Anyways, I don't much log in to the web interface, I just have my mail server pickup new mail via POP3 and toss it in my snork.ca mailbox. I don't much interact with these accounts so sending replies isn't a big deal... they're mostly for notification type emails. Having said that, kind of recently I wanted to send a reply in one fo these gmail accounts and couldn't access my account because Google wanted me to provide a phone number they could text me at.
Now Google says it is because they want to "make sure it's really me" - but is that the case? I never gave Google my phone number, so how does giving them one now verify it is me? It doesn't. It just gives Google a phone number they can associate with my account(s). A phone number is a datapoint that Google must love. People do not want to change their phone number, and a phone number [specifically one that can receive text messages] is frequently tied to a device that has a GPS in it. That same device probably has a Google account logged in all the time collecting information about the owner. I have a hard time believing this is about my security, and an easy time believing this has something to do with Google wanting concrete "real world" unique identifiers tied to every gmail account ever signed up for.