Ubuntu Gets in the User Data Collection Business

Haythem Elmir

Canonical announced plans to roll out a user data and diagnostics collection system with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver). This new system will collect data on the user’s OS details, hardware setup, apps and OS settings.

« 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, » said Will Cooke, Director of Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical.

Checkbox to be added to Ubuntu OS installers

Cooke said his team plans to add a checkbox to the default Ubuntu installer that will be checked by default and will read something in the line of « Send diagnostics information to help improve Ubuntu. »

Users would have to uncheck the box every time they install Ubuntu to prevent diagnostics data collection. If users forget to uncheck the box, they can do it later from the OS settings panel, under the Privacy section.

Ubuntu was already collecting some user data, but Canonical plans to expand this system to gather even more. Here’s what Cooke said Canonical intends to collect from future Ubuntu OS versions.

* 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

No IP addresses

Canonical said they wouldn’t collect any IP address information. 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.

As readers can tell, some of this data, when put together could be used to identify users, albeit it is nowhere as detailed as the data that Microsoft gathers from Windows users.

Canonical said all data would be sent to its servers via HTTPS, and that it plans to make all data public.

« People would be able to see that X% of Ubuntu users are based in .de vs Y% in .za.  Z% of our users run Dell hardware, and so on, » Cooke said.

Microsoft does not make this data public but has recently launched an app that would let users see what information has Microsoft collected from their systems.

To read the original article:https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/linux/ubuntu-gets-in-the-user-data-collection-business/


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