Today I stumbled on the post "Sign up for Gmail"on the Google blog and I was stunned by the following excerpt

For the last 16 months, a lot of people have been asking us how they can sign up for Gmail, and today we're happy to be able to say, "Just go to" From there, you can get an invitation code sent to your mobile phone, and with this code, you can create a Gmail account. Once you have Gmail, you can try out our brand new IM and voice service, Google Talk.

Why use mobile phones? It's a way to help us verify that an account is being created by a real person, and that one person isn't creating thousands of accounts. We want to keep our system as spam-free as possible, and making sure accounts are used by real people is one way to do that.

The privacy implications of having a company collect people's verified mobile phone numbers just for free email accounts boggles the mind. It is common knowledge that web surfers often give websites information they consider private thus I'm sure lots of people will take them up on their offer.  Looking at the GMail SMS mail sign up page it boldly states they plan to store the phone number indefinitely and then points to a privacy policy that doesn't say anything about what they plan to do with our phone numbers. Is their legal team asleep at the wheel or something?

I guess once they ship whatever mobile services that emerge from their purchase of Dodgeball and Android, they'll have a ready pool of phone numbers to launch the service with. That's just genius. Almost evil genius.