[theme-reviewers] tracking code in themes

Chip Bennett chip at chipbennett.net
Thu Mar 8 21:28:39 UTC 2012

> I am not at all opposed to documenting this further, or allowing users to
> turn this feature on or off, but the fact we're being told we can't have it
> on by default is a restriction.

Of course it is a restriction - and a *valid* one, at that, because *third
parties don't have a right to user data without the informed consent of the
user.* Period. It doesn't matter how trivial you think those data are
(though, if they're all that trivial, why collect them in the first
place?). It doesn't matter how much you *think* the end user will benefit
from your collection of those data.

*We are not imposing anything on users.*

Yes, you are. You are imposing on the end user your right to collect data
that belong to the end user. It is an imposition, because you are doing so
without the informed consent of the user.

> Facebook collects far more analytics data on users, every iOS and Android
> user is constantly sending analytic back to Apple and Google, and even
> Automattic has their own analytic software built into every WordPress.comaccount, and Jetpack.
> Who's purposes does this serve? The end users?
> http://en.wordpress.com/stats/
> Analytic data is analytic data. There are no names, no e-mails, and no
> user information that isn't already publicly available. Just because that
> data is now aggregated in a meaningful way doesn't make it dangerous. These
> are publicly accessible websites, anyone can go count the posts and
> comments and view the urls.
> To me there is pretty much no difference between Google analytics and
> PressTrends. Honestly, if I could make our PressTrends account data public
> I would. I have no problem with disclosure because it doesn't disclose any
> personal information, or limit the functionality of our software. In fact,
> all it does is gives us data to make our software better.

And while it's ironic that you should bring up Automattic/JetPack (pop
quiz: who has pushed them the most vocally and publicly to better disclose
the JetPack/QuantServe data collection?), at the end of the day, we're not
Automattic. We're not wordpress.com. We're not Facebook, Google, or
Microsoft. What those companies do is utterly irrelevant to the question of
wordpress.org's policy regarding informed user consent to collection of
user data..

> Useless to whom: the end user, or the developer? If the service is useful
> to the end user, then make the usefulness argument to end users. If the
> service is *not* useful to the end user, then it absolutely should not be
> enabled by default.
> By this same logic nothing should ever be enabled by default then.

Hyperbole does not further the discussion.

> The data is useful to the end user because it gives us a glimpse at how
> the end user is using our software so that we can make it better without
> violating their privacy.
> Again: the actual or perceived usefulness of the data collection is
irrelevant. The issue is the informed consent of the user.


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