Canonical is going to start digging for user data with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver). Note the checkbox at install time is set to on (opt-out method), so the user must actually uncheck that option.
- Ubuntu Flavour
- Ubuntu Version
- Network connectivity or not
- CPU family
- Disk(s) size
- Screen(s) resolution
- GPU vendor and model
- OEM Manufacturer
- Location (based on the location selected at install)
- Installation duration (time taken)
- Auto login enabled or not
- Disk layout selected
- Third party software selected or not
- Download updates during install or not
- LivePatch enabled or not
In addition, Canonical plans to auto-install the Popcon app that gathers data on other package usage, and the Apport app would be configured to automatically send anonymous crash reports without user approval.
Note the weasel words from Canonical:
“We want to be able to focus our engineering efforts on the things that matter most to our users, and in order to do that we need to get some more data about sort of setups our users have and which software they are running on it,”
Sure, sure you do.
If those words sound familiar, let’s compare it with Facebook’s guff around data collection (the kings of collect-it-all):
We are passionate about creating engaging and customized experiences for people. We use all of the information we have to help us provide and support our Services. Provide, improve and develop Services…Communicate with you…Promote safety and security…
And Microsoft (the telemetry you can’t turn off completely or opt out of):
Telemetry is system data that is uploaded by the Connected User Experience and Telemetry component. The telemetry data is used to keep Windows devices secure, and to help Microsoft improve the quality of Windows and Microsoft services. It is used to provide a service to the user as part of Windows.
Notice some disturbing parallels? Can you feel the data love tonight?
Canonical promises not to collect IP addresses, but once the dog has its nose in the door, you can be sure that telemtery will broaden in scope, and they’ll most probably monetize it somehow in the long run. Opt-out is cynical and usually predatory behaviour in OS-land.
I’ll gaze into my crystal ball and forecast the future outcome folks. Over the next few Ubuntu releases, you will get “data collection creep”, and before you know it, they’ll be hoovering up data like Microsoft 10’s snotty-nosed little kid brother. And the “opt out” method will disappear.
There’s a reason Whonix doesn’t recommend Ubuntu as a host OS in the wiki, and that rationale was just significantly strengthened.