I also occasionally use "one-time" alias email addresses when I am communicating with an unknown entity that may use my email address for spam, or attempt to use it to gain access to things they should not. A few of the addresses that I use regularly are well over a decade old, and were from the early days of Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail.
So recently I needed to create a new web-based email for establishing communications with some unknown people for a new activity that I wished to try. For the last few years, I have been using Hushmail or some other encrypted web-based email service for this type of contact. However, I was told that some people that I might wish to have contact with will shy away from such addresses.
So for this email requirement, I started with Gmail, only to find that they now require a phone number in order to verify the account. Well, that's not gonna happen. So I moved on to Yahoo, only to find out that they also require a cell phone number. Not a phone number, but only a cell phone number. That is certainly not going to happen, either. I personally know people who do not own cell phones, and a few who do not own any phone at all.
(Now maybe you are reading this and shouting at the computer screen that I should just use a friend's cell phone number to set up the account. Sure, I could do that, but
FUCK YOU, metadata! That's why!)
So then I moved on to Hotmail to finally discover, to my relief, that they did not require a phone number to verify the account. Having set up the account a few days previous, and having not used it in any manner, I started getting spam mail. How does that happen? I had not given the address to anyone, not even my wife.
Later I ran a print ad in a small newspaper that does not republish on the web, and I used the email address as a point of contact for the activity. After a week, I received a reply to the ad with questions. I typed out a reply, and clicked send, only to be met with a message:
Please verify your account. We've noticed some unusual activity in your Outlook.com account. To help protect you, we've temporarily blocked your account.
Next to the message was a button labeled VERIFY. So when you click on that button, do you know what happens? They want you to fucking give them you damn cell phone number so that they could send me a text message!!
Nowhere does it give any indication as to what they considered "unusual activity." They also do not provide any other means for verifying the account!
Now I don't know about you, but the only unusual activity was the fact that I started getting spammed right out of the gate, because obviously Microsoft saw fit to publish the email address somewhere where devious little fucktards could use it against me, and now the assholes want my cell phone number to "help protect" me!
From who exactly? Certainly not from them; the ones who created the "unusual activity" themselves. Of course, what exactly was unusual about the activity in the account? The fact that I was being spammed? Well that happens to all of my email accounts, but only after I publish them myself. Or maybe it was the fact that I received an email. No that couldn't be it. I get email in all of my accounts, including my old Hotmail accounts and it is never considered "unusual activity." Ah, it must be that I was replying to the one legitimate email I had received. Yeah, that has to be it. It's like fucking Hotel California, you can write replies, but they can never leave.
Queue guitar solo...
So just how many people are so stupid as to link their phone number to their email account(s)? I am guessing that most people are that stupid, otherwise these companies would not get away with doing this kind of bullshit. Yahoo hounds me every time I log in to "protect my account" by entering my phone number. At this point they are not forcing it like Microsoft. But when they do, I will simply abandon the accounts.
So for those of you who know me, if you are contacting me via one of my common unencrypted web-based email accounts (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.), if I suddenly do not answer, you know why: some corporate giant is being a big, fat nanny and trying to "protect me." (More like build a database for big brother.) So, you might want to get with me now and find a better way to contact me.
As for you web email service providers (that's becoming an oxymoron), you can keep on fishing, but I ain't biting.
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