Canonical reveals it plans to start gathering data on Ubuntu OEM installations by letting the operating system send an "I am alive" ping to Canonical's servers on a daily basis. According to Phoronix, the new feature will only be used to track users of OEM installations, so Canonical and the OEM vendor can see whether customers are sticking with Ubuntu on these systems or just wiping them to replace it with another OS. The data will be gathered anonymously, but those concerned about their privacy can always opt out of the Canonical census.
The canonical-census v0.1 description is simply "canonical-census - send "I am alive" ping to Canonical." When looking at the Debian package source to this Python program, "Send an "I am alive" ping to Canonical. This is used for surveying how many original OEM installs are still existing on real machines. Note that this does not send any user specific data; it only transmits the operating system version (/var/lib/ubuntu_dist_channel), the machine product name, and a counter how many pings were sent."
When the canonical-census package is installed, the program is to be added to the daily Cron jobs to be executed so that each day it will report to Canonical over HTTP
the number of times this system previously sent to Canonical (this counter is stored locally and with it running on a daily basis it's thereby indicating how many days the Ubuntu installation has been active), the Ubuntu distributor channel, the product name as acquired by the system's DMI information, and which Ubuntu release is being used.