Plex drops telemetry opt-out

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 21, 2017
Music and Video

Plex, the creator of client-server media streaming solutions, has updated its privacy policy and removed the option for users to opt-out of telemetry collection.

The company provides free and commercial products, and the inability to opt-out affects all users of the service.

The company published a summary of the changes on Friday, but has since then changed the summary page and published an update with clarifications in response to user feedback.

Plex drops telemetry opt-out

The original summary of changes page listed the following highlights:

  • Upcoming features and services involving third-party and ad-supported content will require Plex to collect and, in some cases, share information about the third-party content you are streaming. For clarity, third-party content is content that we deliver or stream to you that is not contained in your personal media library.
  • In order to understand the usage across the Plex ecosystem and how we need to improve, Plex will continue to collect usage statistics, such as device type, duration, bit rate, media format, resolution, and media type (music, photos, videos, etc.). We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection, but we do not sell or share your personally identifiable statistics. Again, we will not collect any information that identifies libraries, files, file names, and/or the specific content stored on your privately hosted Plex Media Servers. The only exception to this is when, and only to the extent, you use Plex with third-party services such as Sonos, Alexa, webhooks, and

The important line, "We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection, but we do not sell or share your personally identifiable statistics" is no longer on the summary page.

The page links to a "privacy policy changes" clarification page instead. Plex CEO Keith Valory answers questions on it that users raised after the changes.

On sending out the notification of the change on a Friday afternoon:

Did you try to sneak this by us?
No. We were just busting our asses to get this done by the end of the week (like so many other things we do!). The sentence most people are concerned about wasn’t buried on page seven of legalese, it was front and center on our summary page, which we created to be more transparent.

On removing the opt-out option:

Over the years, there have been more and more exceptions to the “opt out”. We’ve tried to enumerate these exceptions in the Privacy Policy as they arise and as we build or introduce new features, but there are now a lot of exceptions (and providing mere examples of these exceptions, like many privacy policies, has annoyed users in the past).

As we worked through this revision, we came to the conclusion that providing an ‘opt out’ in the set-up gives a false sense of privacy and feels disingenuous on our part.

The Plex CEO announced that the company will make the following three changes to the policy:

  1. Playback stats will be generalized to prevent fingerprinting. Means, playback duration and bit rate are rounded up.
  2. Playback data opt-out. Plex media server gets an option to opt-out of playback statistics.
  3. Full list of usage statistics. The privacy tab in the server settings will list all product events that the company collects.

Now You: What's your take on this?

Plex drops telemetry opt-out
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Plex drops telemetry opt-out
Plex, the creator of client-server media streaming solutions, has updated its privacy policy and removed the option for users to opt-out of telemetry collection.
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  1. Carjack Chiraq said on August 22, 2017 at 5:14 am

    I’ve not tried these (my simple streaming needs are served by a simple Windows SMB share and Kodi on my tablet – didn’t even look twice at Plex many years ago), but there are popular open source supposed alternatives to Plex. How powerful these are / what these lack compared to Plex, I don’t know, but if you don’t end up missing anything from Plex, why continue to share “statistics”?

    1. Sean Carey said on August 22, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      Streama is not even out of development yet so it is not fully featured, let alone really comparable to Plex (though I will check it out when I get home. I am very happy with Plex, but I like changing things up sometimes). Emby is just not as user friendly or nearly universally compatible like Plex is. I have tried Emby and it was just..not a good time. Plex is crazy easy to install, set up, use, and share your library, whether you use Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. Not to mention their support team is pretty great and their forum is on fire with helpful and knowledgeable people (both official support crew and just other Plex users).

      People who are freaking out over this statistics gathering stuff really need to read into what stats and what info is being gathered. They arent exactly selling your personal info, and on top of being anonymized they dont even gather completely accurate info, in an effort to make it even harder to identify individual users.. The web browser you are using to view this page, and the OS you are running the browser on, likely gather and sell FAR more than Plex even has access to.

      1. Rick A. said on August 24, 2017 at 3:15 pm

        @Sean Carey – “and on top of being anonymized” – Anonymizing our data like WOT was anonymizing our data?

  2. dark said on August 21, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Isn’t Plex open source?
    If they are removing telemetry opt-out, their telemetry should be fully open source.
    Closed source telemetry is no different than spyware.

  3. Rotten Scoundrel said on August 21, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    I refused to consider Plex years back after reading their then, TOS. Can’t see that changing here, but as has been suggested, it is all about money and more money.

    Two levels:
    The first is a budding Exec eager to please and also ensure his/her end of year bonus is the biggest in the pool. He/she finds companies he/she thinks can use the data then sells them a monthly fee. Then he/she lines up more companies to buy the data. It’s almost like an internal Pyramid scheme as he/she will get a cut of all the companies signed up by other execs at the same oompany. Called “Incentive scheme.”

    The second is badgering from the shareholders for improved dividends each year. As a media streamer, the only way that can happen is to get more customers.

    Etither way, raping the customers you have is the only other option.

    Sadly, both issues are the way of the World now. I used smile at the Gordon Gecko comment, “greed is good,” as it was just quote from a movie. I never thought I was seeing the future.

  4. Rick A. said on August 21, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    i don’t use their software………. And never will……….

  5. ShintoPlasm said on August 21, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Another demonstration of how the world of computing has got progressively darker and meaner since the mid-2000s. Once we’d reached a peak of usability and customisability around the Windows 7 era, everything seems to go downhill now. Privacy is gone, telemetry is baked into more software than ever before (even OSs), customisation is taken away from us, former champions of user-centric design (e.g. Mozilla) are losing their nerve, and evil minimalism is taking over our lives. MS has been deprecating feature after feature from its Win10 retail editions, and we no longer have much control or choice. What a sad time to be a computer aficionado, compared to the 1990s-2000s.

  6. LOLZ said on August 21, 2017 at 9:15 am

    But why? :(

    1. Tom Hawack said on August 21, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Money, which is fine, more money which is problematic.
      Money, profit, fairness, ethics … such key words + art, or + music delivered to search engines will provide many answers, i.e money lyrics Abba leading to “Money, money, money, it’s a rich man’s world…”
      You said it. From there on I couldn’t live with cabbage and potatoes admiring the moon and the stars. A complex topic. I guess once money and profit are accepted (if not than please don’t read) the point is, always has been and always will be that of the fair deal. Fairness advantages the mighty, even in one’s ordinary life. Human nature, managed with more or less zeal depending on each of us.

      1. Tom Hawack said on August 22, 2017 at 1:42 am

        Unfortunately liberalism is abandoning economic rationalism by its expanding chaotic and anarchic nature. Even American economists are alarmed by the fact that the very liberal system is declining because oligarchy is breaking competition The only reference to conciliate freedom and justice is fairness, guided and decided by each of us if we forget imprisoning rules (rather freedom in hell than jailing in paradise) . Problem is the land of business in the empire of capitalism is defined not as immoral but as amoral. This leads to a circle quadrature problematic. Optimism is to believe that a free and intelligent mind will inevitably realize that there is no future without fairness, hence that there is no valid business nor economics without consciousness. It may take time but I believe it’ll happen before a planetary revolt. After all making big and fast money requires brains : just add a touch of ethic and things should turn out right. Why lose so much time?

      2. Rush said on August 22, 2017 at 1:02 am

        In Life…it has been….and ALWAYS WILL come down to…………..


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