One only needs to brush up on the Windows Genuine Advantage debacle over at Download Squad (a sister blog) to get a recent example of the trouble a company can get into for making their software phone home (let alone adding an alleged 'kill switch' for the OS, but that's a different story). You can probably imagine, then, the uproar that has been caused when Mac users discovered that, after updating to 10.4.7, a little utility called 'dashboardadvisoryd' started calling home to Apple every eight hours or so. Immediately (of course), allegations of privacy invasion and Apple going the way of the devil began appearing, when (Gruber hit it on the head) Apple could have simply pre-publicized this as nothing more than the security feature that it is. CNET News has an article quoting an Apple statement as saying: "Apple takes protecting user privacy very seriously. The Dashboard Advisory feature is a security tool that ensures that the correct version of a widget has been downloaded from a third-party site and no personal information is transmitted back to Apple". The daemon is simply helping Apple check to make sure that you're running the same widget that is advertised in the Dashboard section of their downloads site.
Sounds like the crisis has been averted; nothing more to see here kids. Move along.