Counting number of users while preserving privacy

Ben Bucksch ben.bucksch at beonex.com
Thu Jan 17 11:54:24 UTC 2019


Yes. I've made such proposals, 7 years ago:
https://wiki.mozilla.org/MetricsDataPing#Anonymous_alternative

(They were rejected by the Mozilla Metrics team, despite fulfilling all 
their stated requirements.)


Eric Moore wrote on 16.01.19 06:31:
> https://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/776327/e0cf49b9b9976c5a/ (some useful 
> background/history of the proposal)
>
> https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Changes/DNF_Better_Counting (the 
> current proposal)
>
> Fedora appears to have spent a lot of thought about a new way to count 
> the number of their installations that does a much better job of 
> preserving privacy, and makes it hard for the data it returns to be 
> misused. It would avoid using a unique id or the ip address. It 
> includes a VARIANT_ID (an example would be "Workstation Edition"). In 
> our case the "count me" variable might have a very low cap such as 6 
> (implying 6 weeks or older) to minimize the risk of uniqueness.
>
> Could something similar be done in Thunderbird when it requests data 
> from one of the Thunderbird servers?
>
> We don't appear to have reliable data on the number of Thunderbird 
> users, did they explicitly install any add-ons (boolean, ignore whats 
> bundled with Thunderbird), and what version they are using. Something 
> modeled on Fedora's approach might be a useful way to get that while 
> avoiding most users (such as myself) instinctive wariness of telemetry 
> such as the toolkit telemetry. If we do this I suggest the community 
> manager explain beforehand (preferably before the first beta that 
> supports it) how it works, how it deals with privacy issues and how to 
> opt-out, in a post on Planet Thunderbird.
>
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