yandex is one free email that doesnt require phone. The only thing that happens when I travel is that I get a notification in my mail account that "Somebody tried to sign in from an unusual location, was it you?" etc etc with a link to the Change Password dialogue.
with Google I've either given them that one or none at all (can't remember which right now) and I've had nothing like threats of my account content being withheld.
Same with Yahoo and Hotmail where I've had accounts for several years too.
Has anyone else been threatened with or even experienced being locked out of their accounts on pain of providing a valid and working phone number?
google, hotmail, and yahoo will all eventually ask you for a phone. even if you sign up and they dont ask you for a phone, eventually, they will.
it's even worse when they ask you 1 year down the line, because now youve got some data with them, and they can blackmail you.