back to article GitLab pulls U-turn on plan to crank up usage telemetry after both staff and customers cry foul

GitLab has swiftly backtracked on plans to add telemetry services to track usage of its products. VP of product Scott Williamson announced on 10 October that "to make GitLab better faster, we need more data on how users are using GitLab". GitLab is a web application that runs on Linux, with options for self-hosting or using …

  1. Alister Silver badge

    CEO apologises for ill-considered proposal

    He's getting good at that...

    1. overunder Bronze badge

      Re: CEO apologises for ill-considered proposal

      And they're getting pretty good at openly ripping your privacy away with a never-read EULA...

      "There is an acceptance of terms and the use of this data should be included in that."

      Of course, of course, of course you unethically greedy CFO!

      1. yoganmahew

        Re: CEO apologises for ill-considered proposal

        "you unethically greedy CFO!"

        Indeed, it seems the desire to make money from data knows no bounds, not even legal ones. Tracking without opt-out would surely have been found illegal in the EU and the reason GDPR protections are in place is because that sort of tracking is unethical.

        It seems that we need to alter the phrase to:

        "Even if you are paying, you are the product" :|

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: CEO apologises for ill-considered proposal

      Google USED TO apologize as well...

    3. keithzg

      Re: CEO apologises for ill-considered proposal

      Yeah, this is the second big backtrack after a public outcry this month!

      Increasingly glad I prefer Phabricator anyways

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    VC born and bred

    On the other hand, GitLab CFO Paul Machle said: "This should not be an opt in or an opt out. It is a condition of using our product. There is an acceptance of terms and the use of this data should be included in that."

    Worth noting that he's right that they can do this. GDPR quickly loses its teeth for anything that requires a login, unfortunately. Tells us a lot about what the investors who currently own GitLab are interested: you are not a name, you are a data resource.

    1. onceuponatime

      Re: VC born and bred

      "You are a data resource which we can sell."

      FTFY.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: VC born and bred

      "GDPR quickly loses its teeth for anything that requires a login"

      ??

      GDPR says that accepting use of PII over and above that needed to perform the functions of the service requires opt-in and should not be a condition of provision of the services. I can't see how requiring a login affects this.

  3. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    GitLab CFO Paul Machle said: "This should not be an opt in or an opt out. It is a condition of us.... making money."

  4. iron Silver badge

    > CFO Paul Machle said: "This should not be an opt in or an opt out. It is a condition of using our product...

    > Sijbrandij also promised a review of what went wrong.

    You're letting the CFO decide the features of your product, a product that is designed for engineers. That never goes well.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      I'd have thought that a CFO would be very concerned about features that would cost the business money. Features such as ignoring the opt-in requirements to handle PII which would open up liability under GDPR. Maybe the CO needs to speak to the CLO or whatever title is given to their legal bod.

      1. brotherelf

        Well, the corporate attitude to the law is easy: the question is not whether it's legal or not. The question is whether the expected (in the stochastical sense) fine is larger or smaller than the extra revenue it generated.

        (Do we have court decisions already on whether breach of GDPR falls under unfair business practices? Because which end user is going to go and bring the charges against GitLab?)

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        In fairness to Gitlab, in the discussion thread where the CFO said that, their legal team pushed back with that same observation (amongst others), and the overall consensus in the Gitlab management crowd -- including the CEO -- was to reject the CFO's assertion.

        That said, Gitlab's actions here have left a bad taste in my mouth.

  5. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Typical

    So the engineering manager flags up that there's a major privacy impact, and may also be legal issues (i.e. GDPR).

    But, the head bean-counter. Not a lawyer or an engineer, a CFO says it's OK? And despite the responses telling him why he's wrong, they seem to have plowed on with it for a while.

    I quite like Gitlab as a product, but I'm becoming quite worried about the direction the company seems to be headed - history is littered with good tools that were badly managed and went to shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typical

      My employer switched to gitlab (from another cloud-based hosting service) a while back, to match other parts of the conglomerate we're part of, and we're not impressed with it anyway. Between that and this incident, there's no way I'd choose them.

    2. MOH

      Re: Typical

      Snowplowed on with it?

  6. tcmonkey
    Mushroom

    “This should not be an opt in or an opt out. It is a condition of using our product...”

    Happy to not use your product then.

    Dickhead.

  7. <script>alert('the register');</script>

    "Engineering manager Lukas Eipert said back in July. "... I hereby declare my highest degree of objection to this change that I can humanly express."

    Based off that one sentence I can tell he has a beard, dirty trainers and drinks iced tea.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: Based off that one sentence

      I can also tell he has the total respect of the engineering department and has spent the last 6 months sheltering them from this shit storm.

  8. John G Imrie Silver badge

    Based on considerable feedback from our customers, users, and the broader community,

    Translation.

    We discovered just how many of our paying customers where going to leave if we did this.

  9. Multivac

    I am/was a self confessed Gitlab fan boy, I spent a week sniggering when Microsoft bought Github. But then Goldman Sachs invested in Gitlab and it became obvious which way this was going. I guess it's just what happens, you develop some great software, you attract the attention of the big money, get dazzled by the bright lights and gala luncheons and sell your soul to a corporate bank.... or Microsoft.... or Google...... or Amazon..... But I guess that then creates the space for the new upstarts to come up with a better idea.

  10. Jan K.

    So far every time I've heard "improving the user experience", it was really never about that...

  11. gagan0123

    Just an update to the situation.

    The apology by Sid Sijbrandij was simply a diversion and whether we like it or not, telemetry is going to be implemented for sure.

    Here's recent discussion thats being going on for implementation of telemetry

    https://gitlab.com/gitlab-com/support/support-team-meta/issues/1926

    and here's the issue where Gitlab team is trying to explain to users that they don't know it yet, but its for their own benefit

    https://gitlab.com/gitlab-com/www-gitlab-com/issues/5672

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