Telemetry Policy

Volker Krause vkrause at
Sun Aug 13 09:47:28 UTC 2017


during the KUserFeedback BoF at Akademy there was quite some interest in 
collecting telemetry data in KDE applications. But before actually 
implementing that we agreed to define the rules under which we would want to 
do that. I've tried to put the input we collected during Akademy into proper 
wording below. What do you think? Did I miss anything?


# Telemetry Policy Draft

Application telemetry data can be a valuable tool for tailoring our products 
to the needs of our users. The following rules define how KDE collects and 
uses such application telemetry data. As privacy is of utmost importance to 
us, the general rule of thumb is to err on the side of caution here. Privacy 
always trumps any need for telemetry data, no matter how legitimate.

These rules apply to all products released by KDE.

## Transparency

We provide detailed information about the data that is going to be shared, in 
a way that:
- is easy to understand
- is precise and complete
- is available locally without network connectivity

Any changes or additions to the telemetry functionality of an application will 
be highlighted in the corresponding release announcement.

## Control

We give the user full control over what data they want to share with KDE. In 
- application telemetry is always opt-in, that is off by default
- application telemetry settings can be changed at any time, and are provided 
as prominent in the application interface as other application settings
- applications honor system-wide telemetry settings where they exist (global 
"kill switch")
- we provide detailed documentation about how to control the application 
telemetry system

In order to ensure control over the data after it has been shared with KDE, 
applications will only transmit this data to KDE servers, that is servers 
under the full control of the KDE sysadmin team.

We will provide a designated contact point for users who have concerns about 
the data they have shared with KDE. While we are willing to delete data a user 
no longer wants to have shared, it should be understood that the below rules 
are designed to make identification of data of a specific user impossible, and 
thus a deletion request impractical.

## Anonymity

We do not transmit data that could be used to identify a specific user. In 
- we will not use any unique device, installation or user id
- data is stripped of any unnecessary detail and downsampled appropriately 
before sharing to avoid fingerprinting
- network addresses (which are exposed inevitably as part of the data 
transmission) are not stored together with the telemetry data, and must only 
be stored or used to the extend necessary for abuse counter-measures

## Minimalism

We only track the bare minimum of data necessary to answer specific questions, 
we do not collect data preemptively or for exploratory research. In 
particular, this means:
- collected data  must have a clear purpose
- data is downsampled to the maximum extend possible at the source
- relevant correlations between individual bits of data should be computed at 
the source whenever possible
- data collection is stopped once corresponding question has been answered

## Privacy

We will never transmit anything containing user content, or even just hints at 
possible user content such as e.g. file names, URLs, etc.

We will only ever track:
- system information that are specific to the installation/environment, but 
independent of how the application/machine/installation is actually used
- statistical usage data of an installation/application

## Compliance

KDE only releases products capable of acquiring telemetry data if compliance 
with these rules has been established by a public review on [kde-core-devel|
kde-community] from at least two reviewers. The review has to be 
repeated for every release if changes have been made to how/what data is 

Received data is regularly reviewed for violations of these rules, in 
particular for data that is prone to fingerprinting. Should such violations be 
found, the affected data will be deleted, and data recording will be suspended 
until compliance with these rules has been established again. In order to 
enable reviewing of the data, every KDE contributor with a developer account 
will have access to all telemetry data gathered by any KDE product.
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