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Why Did CCleaner Change Their Data Collection Policies?

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CCleaner has responded to user complaints about their new data collection policies, which collect anonymous data to “gain greater insight into how our users interact with the software”.  If you’re not familiar with CCleaner, it is a popular system cleaning tool for both Mac and PC. The data collection methods, called Active Monitoring and heartbeat, were incredibly difficult to opt out of. The team at CCleaner has promised to give users more control over whether or not their data is collected and submitted, as well as implement these changes in a timely fashion.

Paul Yung, VP of products for CCleaner, has emphasized the anonymized nature of the data.  He is blaming the public backlash on the fact that it has a bit of a “scary name”.  But is that really the reason?  I mean, the name itself isn’t exactly great, but perhaps people are just more in tune with where their data is being collected, and subsequently what it’s being used for?  I know that it’s something we discuss a lot.  While it is something that’s brought to the forefront because of Facebook, everyone needs to know what companies are doing what with their data.

Not only do people want to know what their data is being used for.  But they also want the ability to opt out and have control over where they’re handing over their information.  The problem with CCleaner is that they didn’t make these kinds of controls available.  Also, this update made the program even harder to shut down – forcing people to “force” close the application.

As with any new feature, I’m always the first to say that there needs to be rigorous testing.  In this case, CCleaner needs to take into consideration the users wants or preferences.  Meaning, if a user wants the ability to control where their data is going, they should be able to have that.  It shouldn’t be added afterward.  As consumers, we recognize the need for software and apps to be updated all the time, but shouldn’t we be informed on what those updates are?  If these things aren’t considered, people are going to think twice about using an app or a particular software.

Will complaints from the users make a difference when it comes to this kind of feature? Maybe, and maybe not.  CCleaner made the following statement on these new features:

“As part of our ongoing mission to improve CCleaner and deliver a better customer experience, we introduced some features in Version 5.45 aimed at providing us with more accurate data that would help us to detect bugs more quickly and let us know which CCleaner features are being used and which aren’t. The information which is collected through these new features is aggregated, anonymous data and only allows us to spot trends. This is very helpful to us for the purposes of improving our software and our customers’ experience. No personally identifiable information is collected.”

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