I am programming and designing a Mac OS X system monitoring app. In order to improve the functionality of the app, it will collect this data and send it to my web backend:

  • Type of device
  • OS version
  • Type of CPU
  • Total installed memory
  • Total hard disk capacity

None of this information is unique to this user or their device, and it will only be collected on the first time the app is run. Should the app collect the data in the background, or should it ask the user for permission to collect data?

  • a. Why would the answer be specific to Mac OS X or Mac in general? b. Applications user ask permission to send such data anonymously. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:18
  • 1
    I wouldn't bother the User with a popup on first launch. Rather I would ask him in the Setup via a Checkbox or ask him after some program launches or a time period. So he wont be bothered at startup but after he gats to know what rhe software does and if he trust this system he can decide if he wants to share information or not
    – BlueWizard
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 9:43

5 Answers 5


I don't know if there is a standard for this, so I am strictly speaking from personal opinion but I would say since the app is meant for system monitoring it is fairly obvious that you will be collecting information about the system. The worry of the user won't be the collecting but rather the distributing of such information. Therefore, to address those worries instead of prompting users for access to what is already implicitly given, I would simply include a segment about what information you're gathering, what you will be doing with the information gathered, and who will have access to it.

  • Could this just go in the app's About window?
    – 3871968
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 17:36
  • 1
    I would think that would be fine, I would just make it more or less prominent depending on how important you think it will be to your users (I don't think it's too big of a deal since it's not personal/identifying data, and is expected of this type of app).
    – DasBeasto
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:16
  • "The worry of the user won't be the collecting but rather the distributing of such information." < That's a big assumption. Users are becoming increasingly wary of remote data storage due to vulnerabilities. For the average user, it is obvious that it needs to be collected, but not that it needs to be stored. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:58
  • That is a very good point I was thinking more of who got their hands on the data as opposed to how they got it (intentionally/untentionally distributed). However, for the type of data being collected I stand by that a simple rundown of whats happening in the privacy policy will suffice, maybe add what security measures are being implemented to protect said data.
    – DasBeasto
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:13

Should a Mac app ask the user permission for gathering data about their hardware?

Could be reworded as:

Should an app ask the user permission before gathering data?

To instill trust with the user, yes, absolutely.


What you're collecting is the same as "System Requirements".

You could actually make that part of the initial installation process, rather than a "hidden call home". Example:

Installation is complete.
In an effort to improve our software, we'd like to save the following 
information to our database
OS: Yosemite 10.1.1
RAM: 16G
Foo: Bar
[ok] [no way, bro]

Let them see what you want to see, and give them the option to say, no thanks. (I'm thinking about someone who may lose their internet connection during install, or have a 'snitch' program running... Don't look sneaky, just to snag an OS from your audience).


Users of mac have faith in the ecosystem. They believe in transparency. This faith is the most valuable thing we have in this ecosystem. Therefore we should not let this faith fade away. We should protect this ecosystem. As DA01 mentioned to instill the faith it is absolutely necessary. Also as this feature adds value to the user, he will never get annoyed from it. So go for it.


I would expect this permission to be granted by the user as part of the installation process.

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