Fedora 40 Plans to Trample User Privacy with Telemetry Integration

In a surprising proposal, Fedora plans to implement a telemetry tool in next year's upcoming Fedora 40 Workstation release.

I’m not sure what’s going on in the heads of the Red Hatters anymore, but all indications are that they’re doing whatever it takes to win this year’s “most controversial decision” award.

After causing an earthquake in the Linux community last month by putting the future of Rocky and Alma at stake by limiting access to source code, their backed Linux distribution Fedora is now coming out with a new, highly controversial proposal.

Fedora 40 Plans to Use a Telemetry Tool to Collect Information

Fedora Workstation
Fedora Workstation

In a surprising proposal that has stirred up much debate, the Fedora project has announced its intention to include a telemetry tool in the upcoming Fedora 40 Workstation edition, slated for release in late April next year.

The Red Hat Display Systems Team (which develops the desktop) proposes to enable limited data collection of anonymous Fedora Workstation usage metrics.

The proposal owners feel it is essential to ensure the Fedora community has ultimate oversight over metrics collection. Community control is required to maintain user trust. If this change proposal is approved, then we’ll need new policies and procedures to ensure community oversight over metrics collection and ensure Fedora users can be confident that our metrics collection does not violate their privacy.

Telemetry, a technology commonly associated with data collection and usage analysis, has long been a topic of contention in the tech world due to concerns over privacy and user consent.

The problem is that “telemetry” and “open source” cannot coexist in the same sentence. But, of course, that is not the case with Red Hat, which has proven that these are simply words to them.

Fedora plans to bet on using Azafea, the Endless OS metrics system, for data collection. Of course, it is explicitly stated that no personal data will be collected, only information about how the operating system is used. Another matter is whether this would make any Linux user feel more at ease.

Perhaps you’re wondering what’s behind this controversial proposal, which contradicts open-source values. Referring again to the official source:

One of the main goals of metrics collection is to analyze whether Red Hat is achieving its goal to make Fedora Workstation the premier developer platform for cloud software development. Accordingly, we want to know things like which IDEs are most popular among our users, and which runtimes are used to create containers using Toolbx.

Metrics can also be used to inform user interface design decisions. For example, we want to collect the clickthrough rate of the recommended software banners in GNOME Software to assess which banners are actually useful to users. We also want to know how frequently panels in gnome-control-center are visited to determine which panels could be consolidated or removed.

How the Telemetry Tool Will Be Implemented?

Fedora plans to add a new metrics collecting setting to the initial setup privacy page and GNOME’s Control Center. The promises are that no data will be automatically sent to Fedora without the user’s knowledge and consent.

The principle on which the telemetry system will work is that whether the user wants it or not, the data will be collected automatically, but to be sent to Fedora, the user’s explicit permission will be needed.

So, regardless of how you look at it, it appears that the end user is faced with a fait accompli as far as data collection is concerned.

Bottom Line

So, as Fedora sets its sights on a more data-driven future, the question on everyone’s minds now is whether this move will enhance the user experience or erode the longstanding principles of openness and user control that the Fedora project has been known for.

Finally, we must emphasize that this is currently only a proposal that must be approved by the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo) before it can become a reality. All expectations are, however, for this to happen. The proposal’s entire content can be seen here.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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