Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to categorize all data collection as inherently bad.
For example, I think it would be great if packages had a ‘suggestion box’ sort of thing in the settings panel where people could vote on new feature suggestions and rate existing features in order to give users more influence in the development of packages. Also, in my syntax theme I have optional “extras” that can be activated through the settings panel, and I have no idea if anyone even likes or uses them. Being able to see which options people have enabled would let me make a better package.
I have to agree that opt-in should always be the default, but I also think a lot of people have different meanings of what constitutes an “opt-in” to begin with, which leads to a lot of the negative perception towards analytics. To many , to “opt-in” probably means to check a checkbox that says something like “I opt in to share x”, but I think these days there are a lot more ways we opt-in to share data.
By posting a reply on this topic for example, you are also consciously opting in to have the content of your post be made public on this site, and you are consciously agreeing to this; Also, by simply visiting a website, you’re opting in to let that site track your IP address. It’s not like simply installing tools such as Google Analytics gives websites the ability to capture some information about you that wasn’t previously available to them - i.e., they are not taking something from you - instead, by choosing to visit that site, you’re inherently choosing to give them the information to track.