[wp-hackers] Revisiting phone home and privacy

Peter Westwood peter.westwood at ftwr.co.uk
Wed Dec 9 09:38:00 UTC 2009

On 9 Dec 2009, at 01:20, Christopher O'Connell wrote:

> At the risk of being added to the tinfoil hat brigade I have always  
> found it
> very unsettling that users are not offered an opt out.
> As others have pointed out, virtually every piece of software with a  
> phone
> home feature asks for user permission first. Indeed, I suspect  
> (although I
> am not fully up to date on case law) that this has been mandated by  
> the
> deliciously silly wranglings of the legal community (otherwise, why  
> would
> everyone do it?).
> But purely from an ethical standpoint, I really think it's important  
> that
> users be allowed to opt out easily and in the core!

In my experience the software that asks about phone home is asking  
about sending detailed data about what you are doing with the software.

For example if WordPress was recording which admin pages you visit  
most often or how often your posted / how many comments you received  
and phoning home that information I would expect to have a very visual  

This is not what we are doing we are sending back a very simple set of  

  * The version WordPress you are using - we need this to be able to  
give you the correct response
  * The versions of PHP and mysql you are using - we need these to be  
able to make sensible decisions about which versions we should support
  * The locale you are using - so we can offer you the update in your  
  * The url of the site doing the checks - so we can differentiate  
between different clients in order to aggregate the version numbers  

Peter Westwood
http://blog.ftwr.co.uk | http://westi.wordpress.com
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