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 the company’s cloud service. It is open-source, with both free and licensed editions.

Williamson said that while nothing was changing with the free self-hosted Community Edition, the hosted and licensed products would all now “include additional JavaScript snippets (both open source and proprietary) that will interact with both GitLab and possibly third-party SaaS telemetry services (we will be using Pendo)”. The only opt-out was to be support for the Do Not Track browser mechanism.

GitLab customers and even some staff were not pleased. For example, Yorick Peterse, a GitLab staff developer, said telemetry should be opt-in and that the requisite update to the terms of service would break some API usage (because bots do not know how to accept terms of service), adding: “We have plenty of customers who would not be able to use GitLab if it starts tracking data for on-premises installations.”

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