Google Wants Your Phone Number

AdSense users might have gotten a bit of a shock today when Google implemented a new payment policy. Now in addition to your name, address, and tax ID number the company demands that you verify your phone number.

In order to perform the verification users will find a PIN code in their AdSense account. When Google's automated system calls a user's phone number the user will need to enter the PIN.

Google will cease sending all payments until the phone number is verified. Users who fail to verify their phone number within 4 months will begin to see free public service ads on their sites instead of revenue-generating ads. If after 6 months a phone number is still not verified then all AdSense revenue will be refunded to advertisers, which means AdSense users will lose all the revenue their sites have generated.

I fail to understand why Google thinks a phone number is any sort of verification. Using that method of "authentication" is basically useless, so it seems to me to be more like a simple invasion of privacy. After all, anybody can get a disposable phone number by simply buying a pre-paid cell phone ($50 or less at grocery stores and department stores) or signing up for a relatively anonymous VoIP solution such as Skype. Oh wait, Skype wants a credit card number for you to buy "Skype-In" minutes so you can receive calls from land lines. No problem. Head to your local drug store and buy a VISA gift card and use that to buy time from Skype--the card is completely anonymous too.

So what's next from Google? Manditory DNA samples?

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