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Plex drops telemetry opt-out

Plex, the creator of client-server media streaming solutions, has updated its privacy policy and removed the option for users to opt-out of telemetry collection.

The company provides free and commercial products, and the inability to opt-out affects all users of the service.

The company published a summary of the changes on Friday, but has since then changed the summary page and published an update with clarifications in response to user feedback.

Plex drops telemetry opt-out

plex media server 1.0

The original summary of changes page listed the following highlights:

  • Upcoming features and services involving third-party and ad-supported content will require Plex to collect and, in some cases, share information about the third-party content you are streaming. For clarity, third-party content is content that we deliver or stream to you that is not contained in your personal media library.
  • In order to understand the usage across the Plex ecosystem and how we need to improve, Plex will continue to collect usage statistics, such as device type, duration, bit rate, media format, resolution, and media type (music, photos, videos, etc.). We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection, but we do not sell or share your personally identifiable statistics. Again, we will not collect any information that identifies libraries, files, file names, and/or the specific content stored on your privately hosted Plex Media Servers. The only exception to this is when, and only to the extent, you use Plex with third-party services such as Sonos, Alexa, webhooks, and Last.fm.

The important line, "We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection, but we do not sell or share your personally identifiable statistics" is no longer on the summary page.

The page links to a "privacy policy changes" clarification page instead. Plex CEO Keith Valory answers questions on it that users raised after the changes.

On sending out the notification of the change on a Friday afternoon:

Did you try to sneak this by us?
No. We were just busting our asses to get this done by the end of the week (like so many other things we do!). The sentence most people are concerned about wasn’t buried on page seven of legalese, it was front and center on our summary page, which we created to be more transparent.

On removing the opt-out option:

Over the years, there have been more and more exceptions to the “opt out”. We’ve tried to enumerate these exceptions in the Privacy Policy as they arise and as we build or introduce new features, but there are now a lot of exceptions (and providing mere examples of these exceptions, like many privacy policies, has annoyed users in the past).

As we worked through this revision, we came to the conclusion that providing an ‘opt out’ in the set-up gives a false sense of privacy and feels disingenuous on our part.

The Plex CEO announced that the company will make the following three changes to the policy:

  1. Playback stats will be generalized to prevent fingerprinting. Means, playback duration and bit rate are rounded up.
  2. Playback data opt-out. Plex media server gets an option to opt-out of playback statistics.
  3. Full list of usage statistics. The privacy tab in the server settings will list all product events that the company collects.

Now You: What's your take on this?

 

This article was first seen on ComTek's "TekBits" Technology News

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