CyanogenMod will no longer allow opting out of statistics, but privacy shouldn’t be harmed
Earlier today, in what many assumed was an April Fool’s joke, Koushik Dutta of CyanogenMod made the executive decision to remove the ability for users to opt out of statistics reporting. Anyone who has installed CM should be familiar with the statistics opt in, which appears as a notification after installing the custom ROM. The notification simply links to an area of the settings where a user can choose whether or not to send anonymous usage statistics to the CM team.
I’ve always opted in to the statistics reporting anyway, but from now on every CyanogenMod installation will have statistics reporting enabled, and it won’t be a user option. This caused some panic in security conscious users, who were concerned that uniquely identifying statistics about their device would be kept, such as the IMEI and MAC address. While both the IMEI and MAC address can be collected, Koush makes it clear that both are anonymized and cannot be decoded into the actual IMEI or MAC address by the CM team. The data is simply used to identify each unique device and avoid duplicates.
In addition to the IMEI and MAC address, CyanogenMod statistics collects the device name, CM version, country, and carrier. What you see above is the result of this data, which is used by the team to understand the “user base, devices, CM version, and other data” in order to make the ROM better. (You can see the public data here.)
Much of this data is already collected by almost any Google Play app, so it isn’t as if users are suddenly giving away more information than they otherwise would. In addition, Google already collects much more data than CyanogenMod ever will about you, your device usage habits, location, preferences, and many other things. As such, it really doesn’t make much sense to be upset about the CM team collecting some data, which is of little use maliciously, in order to make a better project. It was, of course, nice to have the option to opt out of the data collection, but technically you still can simply by choosing another ROM.[Google+]