Filelodge: why SMS or text verification?Tuesday, April 11, 2006
If anyone else has got an account with the free file hosting provider Filelodge, I expect you've received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org saying:
We are requesting that File Lodge members verify their accounts by sending us an SMS / Text message from their mobile (cell) phones.
Lately there has been a lot of abuse on the system, and we have had to introduce this extra verification measure to ensure that accounts belong to genuine users. By phone verifying users we hope to be able to remove non-legitimate users who make the performance of the service suffer.
For instructions on how to verify your account, please visit http://www.filelodge.com/phoneactivate.php
We would appreciate it if you can verify your account straight away, as in the future non-verified accounts may be removed from the system.
The File Lodge team
Now so far FileLodge has proved very popular because they give you bags of space (500 MB), let you upload virtually any file type (even image files and audio files like MP3s), allow hotlinking, and provide unlimited bandwidth for downloads, (they're ad-supported). This email seems legit in that the http://www.filelodge.com/phoneactivate.php link does lead to a page on the FileLodge site as far as I can see, and so does the http://www.filelodge.com/activate.php link listed on that page.
However, nasty suspicious cynical me has to ask:
- What is this 60999 number? People have signed up for File Lodge from all over the world. How much exactly do you get charged for sending a text to that number? Premium rate? A lot more?
- Is this a ploy to collect lots of mobile phone numbers for marketing purposes? I've always resisted texting for any promotions and the like, despite the tempting prizes etc often on offer. I don't want to lay myself open to spam texts or SMS messages. Plus, they'll be able to associate your phone number with your username and email address, how useful is that for marketers? And will they be selling your details to third parties?
- Or do they plan to shop to the record companies and the like any people who have been using File Lodge for hosting illegal MP3 files? I sympathise if there's been abuse on that score, and getting hold of mobile numbers is a very nice and easy way for them to track down exactly who's who, though there are surely other ways to track down illegal file sharers and it's been done before through ISPs and the like. But for those of us who use FileLodge for legal purposes, and want privacy and no possibility of spam texts, looks like it's tough luck.
But without a clear statement as to what they're going to do with our numbers, how secure they keep them, and how much that text message will cost, I'm not going to do it, and if I have to lose that hosting, well that's the way it goes.
I'm also wondering why they require a text message for verification. For the vast majority of websites, email verification is sufficient. And what about people who don't have cellphones, few though they may be these days - how on earth can they verify? How does giving them your cellphone number to associate with your username and email address "prove" that you're "legitimate"?
It's such a pity, because FileLodge was the best hosting provider for files around. Operative word, was.
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