MEDIA STREAMING LIBRARY library Plex has backtracked on plans to force users to part with anonymous data whilst using the service.
The Plex forums went ballistic. Names were called, boycotts were threatened, and others said they would find software or hardware methods to block Plex's trawlings.
Even Plex itself had foreseen the oncoming s*it storm by saying: "Before you grab your pitchfork and head to Reddit, we do NOT know what files you have stored or what you watch 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 Last.fm. Do not panic."
Which is just the sort of thing that makes privacy advocates panic even more. And yes, head to Reddit they most certainly did.
But in a surprise move, Plex took on the plethora of user feedback and by Sunday evening, decided to reverse the decision explaining a bunch of reasons why they felt "disingenuous" offering an opt-out as the following server connections are at the backbone of the service already (we've cut this down a bit):
- check for updates;
- discover how to connect to remote servers
- Alexa and Sonos are designed such that metadata must be available
- we have to know you have a Plex Pass
- we have to communicate through our cloud infrastructure to relay playback requests/commands/events in certain scenarios;
- if you use our relay service when direct remote connections cannot be made, we have to have data to make the hand off
- we have to provide accurate reporting to licencors
The moral of the story is that although Plex has softened up its stance, even if you opt-out, you're not really opting out. As we've said many times on these pages, if you opt out, stuff stops working - it's your call, but thankfully Plex has recognised that it should be our call, and reinstated the option. µ
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