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Plex Users Outraged Over Company’s Plans to Collect More Information


TheMerkle Plex Privacy Outrage

The Plex service is widely appreciated by multimedia enthusiasts all over the world. It is a free software package that allows users to stream their media – video, photos, and music – to any device running the same software. Plex is supported on many platforms including consoles, smart TVs, tablets, and so forth. However, the company recently made an announcement that upset a lot of people. It had planned to make data collection mandatory, without giving users an option to opt out. That plan has been canceled due to the negative backlash.

Mandatory Data Collection is Never a Good Idea

In this day and age of data collection and invading of privacy, any decision made by companies in this regard will be scrutinized. Plex is no exception, as the software package is used by millions of people around the world. It is one of the most convenient ways to access and stream different types of media to any device. However, a newly announce plan by the company over the weekend had users up in arms, as they felt their privacy would have been invaded due to this decision.

The announcement of the change by the Plex team was bound to have major repercussions. The company aimed to collect data on how customers were using the software and services for which it is known. Up until now, that has always been a matter of users opting in to share this data or keeping it private at all times. The company decided the time had come to make a big change in this regard and make data collection mandatory at all times. Indeed, there would be no opt-out feature whatsoever.

The updated privacy policy reflecting these changes was not received all that well by the Plex community. In fact, they voiced their outrage on social media platforms and on the company’s forum as well. Most Plex users do not wish to share their information with the company or detail how they use the software. After all, Plex is often used to stream less-than-legal content to other devices, which would give the company information on which users are known to have possessed pirated content. It is unclear how that information would have been used, and with no opt-out feature, a lot of problems could have ensued.

According to the explanation provided by the company, this change was indeed necessary. A lot of information was already being transmitted due to servers connecting to the cloud, new services designed using metadata, and communication through the Plex cloud infrastructure to relay playback requests. Providing an opt-out feature in the setup, Plex claimed, would give users a false sense of privacy as a whole. The Plex software already collects a ton of information from which people cannot opt-out, and thus this updated privacy policy only reflected things which had been present for quite some already.

It did not take long until the Plex user base caught wind of this change and assumed the nature of an angry mob. Most of the users voicing concern promised to take their business elsewhere to other services, either paid or free of charge.  Although the change was supposed to go into effect on September 20th, it appears the company has already reversed its decision altogether. This demonstrates that feedback from the public can certainly influence a company’s decision-making. Even though Plex meant no harm whatsoever, the potential implications of the data collection could have been catastrophic.

Additionally, Plex would have also been in violation of European Union law. These laws clearly state any company collecting users’ information needs the permission of the user specifically. Any updates made in regards to which information is collected has to be approved by users as well, which Plex had no intention of doing. The fact that the plan will not go into effect after all is a small victory for privacy advocates. The opt-out feature will remain where it is right now, although the amount of data collected when users opt in will still reflect the proposed changes.


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