Ubiquiti Networks is once again under fire for suddenly rewriting its telemetry policy after changing how its UniFi routers collect data without telling anyone.
The changes were identified in a new help document published on the US manufacturer’s website. The document differentiates between “personal data”, which includes everything that identifies a specific individual, and “other data”, which is everything else.
The document says that while users can continue to opt out of having their “personal data” collected, their “other data” – anonymous performance and crash information – will be “automatically reported”. In other words, you ain’t got no choice.
This is a shift from Ubiquiti’s last statement on data collection three months ago, which promised an opt-out button for all data collection in upcoming versions of its firmware.
A Ubiquiti representative confirmed in a forum post that the changes will automatically affect all firmware beyond 4.1.0, and that users can stop “other data” being collected by manually editing the software’s config file.
“Yes, it should be updated when we go to public release, it’s on our radar,” the rep wrote. “But I can’t guarantee it will be updated in time.”
The drama unfolded when netizens grabbed their pitchforks and headed for the company’s forums to air their grievances. “Come on UBNT,” said user leonardogyn. “PLEASE do not insist on making it hard (or impossible) to fully and easily disable sending of Analytics data. I understand it’s a great tool for you, but PLEASE consider that’s [sic] ultimately us, the users, that *must* have the option to choose to participate on it.”
The same user also pointed out that, even when the “Analytics” opt-out button is selected in the 5.13.9 beta controller software, Ubiquiti is still collecting some data. The person called the opt-out option “a misleading one, not to say a complete lie”.
Other users were similarly outraged. “This was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back, to be honest.” said elcid89. “I only use Unifi here at the house, but between the ongoing development instability, frenetic product range, and lack of responsiveness from staff, I’ve been considering junking it for a while now. This made the decision for me – switching over to Cisco.”
One user said that the firmware was still sending their data to two addresses even after they modified the config file.