GNOME Info Collect is the project’s new telemetry tool, one with which to “collect system information”, or what amounts to the same thing, data on the use of the system by users, in order to help make development decisions regarding to the GNOME desktop environment and its applications.
In even more detail, «the data will be used to improve GNOME, specifically by informing design decisions, influencing where resources are spent, and generally helping us better understand users«, summarizes the description of GNOME Info Collect in the GNOME GitLab.
Nothing new under the sun, on the other hand, and it’s rare that software doesn’t include some sort of feature that collects usage data and is used by developers to improve that software. Without going any further, the KDE project has long since implemented your own telemetry system on desktop and applications.
Of course, this topic often leads to privacy-related concerns, and often unfounded ones, when it comes to open source software. see the case of Audacity as an examplealthough Ubuntu also fell for it in its day and the list is much longer, although always wounds in the same: confuse telemetry with an invasion of privacy.
As with data collection from KDE, Ubuntu, or other products, all data collected by GNOME Info Collect, an otherwise open source tool, is anonymous: distribution and version, OEM hardware, model, CPU, etc.; if you are using Flatpak and Flathub, default web browser, favorite applications (those pinned in the dock), installed extensions…
For more data, and never better said, the GitLab page linked above.
However, it should be noted that GNOME Info Collect is not only a free tool and in principle safe: it is not installed anywhere. It has been in development for months, although it is now when it is released (we have hunted it via Reddit) and in fact, the user is invited to install it on his own. It is available for different distributions, for Ubuntu in Snap format.
The installation instructions are, like the rest of the information, including the source code, on the project’s GitLab page. However, it would not be surprising if sooner rather than later they implement it in the GNOME software that is distributed in the distributions, worth the redundancy, and although it will be the decision of each one, there seems to be no reason not to do it.
It should be optional and disabled by default, needless to add. But if this type of telemetry helps the project to develop better software in a better way, welcome. What is your opinion?