Re: How it should have been handled
The recent actions of Microsoft, Google et al have made me (and undoubtedly a great many other people) understandably suspicious of anyone who utters the term "data collection". However, I agree with the approach outlined above (@Eugene Crosser). If the data collection is one-off, opt-in and I can see exactly what data is being sent, then I have no problem. Bonus points if I can tailor exactly what data is sent. The fact that Ubuntu's source code is apparently available to examine means that any extra data sent in an underhanded fashion will be quickly picked up.
The main problem I had with other companies is that the data collection was often either opt-out, repeatedly and continuously opt-out when they sneakily change your settings back, or even just mandatory. There was no transparency at all on what was collected, and an awful lot of apparent deceit.
I will be keeping an eye on Ubuntu, but as long as things stay pretty transparent I don't think this is an automatic black mark against them.