[development] WordPress 2.3 Spies On Users

Angela Byron drupal-devel at webchick.net
Tue Sep 25 18:53:00 UTC 2007

On 25-Sep-07, at 2:00 PM, Gerhard Killesreiter wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
> Khalid Baheyeldin schrieb:
>> The drupal module in 5.x sends a subset of this (site name, URI,  
>> IIRC).
>> The new update module in 6.x supersedes that, but I am not up to date
>> on the details. It includes installed modules too.
>> I think the data is in the DB of drupal.org.
>> Is it a big deal if the that info is sent? The highest rated  
>> comments so far
>> downplay that it is an issue at all.
> I think the main issue (and a serious one) is that this is done  
> without
> asking the user and without the possibility to switch it off without
> extra work. Drupal's phone home feature has always been "opt in".

It's true that it always has been, but as of the code in HEAD right  
now, it's (currently) not.

a) update.module is enabled by default, making this "opt-out" rather  
than "opt-in."
b) It sends off an md5 hash of the site URL and a private key  
variable with each request, the frequency of which is determined by a  
setting (defaults to daily). There is no personally identifiable  
information in this md5 string, and it is used as a key for checking  
update status.
c) It is possible to "opt-out" of this behaviour, but the only way is  
to disable update.module altogether. The option in the 5.x update  
status module was removed for the core inclusion, per Dries.

I think due to this being a security tool, it makes complete sense  
for this to be opt-out, rather than opt-in. Is the lack of ability to  
prevent sending the md5 hash enough to get us in trouble with privacy  
watchdogs? I'm not sure.


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