Online data mining and tracking are now full fledged diseases with no immediate cure.
One subtle way that vendors track people is with time servers. Even distro maintainers use this subtle tactic to collect data.
The trick is simple. Configure the distro or firmware to use NTP to sync back home to a time server. For example, 0.ubuntu.pool.ntp.org or 0.ubnt.pool.ntp.org (Ubiquiti).
The simple time sync informs the upstream provider of a customer. Along with an IP address that provides some kind of nominal geographical location.
Of course, this tactic is offered as a service. Customers are supposed to be grateful.
So subtle. Such is the pervasiveness of this disease.