Linked by Howard Fosdick on Thu 3rd Jan 2013 08:57 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Proprietary software like Windows often includes surveillance code to track user behavior and send this information to vendor servers. Linux has traditionally been immune to such privacy violation. Ubuntu 12.10 now includes code that, by default, collects data on Dash searches. The code integrates Amazon products into search results and can even integrate with Facebook, Twitter, BBC and others as per Ubuntu's Third Party Privacy Policies. This article at the EFF tells how it all works and how to opt out of information sharing, while Richard Stallman himself comments here.
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unfair jab at Microsoft
by chekr on Thu 3rd Jan 2013 11:18 UTC
chekr
Member since:
2005-11-05

The remark "Proprietary software like Windows often includes surveillance code to track user behavior and send this information to vendor servers." is not correct.

Windows does not track any user behaviour whatsoever unless you elect (*choose*) to participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program.

Only when you activate Windows does the Windows Activation Technology send the following information to the validation server:

•Computer make and model
•Version information for the operating system and software
•Region and language settings
•A unique number assigned to your computer by the tools (Globally Unique Identifier or GUID)
•Product Key (hashed) and Product ID
•BIOS name, revision number, and revision date
•Hard drive volume serial number (hashed)
•Whether the installation was successful if one was performed
•The result of the validation check, including error codes and information about any activation exploits and any related malicious or unauthorized software found or disabled

The above does not at all amount to surveillance code or behaviour.

Please correct the text or substantiate what surveillance is taking place in a default Windows installation, that you know about, but the rest of the world does not.

Reply Score: 8

RE: unfair jab at Microsoft
by The1stImmortal on Thu 3rd Jan 2013 11:39 in reply to "unfair jab at Microsoft"
The1stImmortal Member since:
2005-10-20

The remark "Proprietary software like Windows often includes surveillance code to track user behavior and send this information to vendor servers." is not correct.

Windows does not track any user behaviour whatsoever unless you elect (*choose*) to participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program.

Only when you activate Windows does the Windows Activation Technology send the following information to the validation server:

•Computer make and model
•Version information for the operating system and software
•Region and language settings
•A unique number assigned to your computer by the tools (Globally Unique Identifier or GUID)
•Product Key (hashed) and Product ID
•BIOS name, revision number, and revision date
•Hard drive volume serial number (hashed)
•Whether the installation was successful if one was performed
•The result of the validation check, including error codes and information about any activation exploits and any related malicious or unauthorized software found or disabled

The above does not at all amount to surveillance code or behaviour.

Please correct the text or substantiate what surveillance is taking place in a default Windows installation, that you know about, but the rest of the world does not.

Unless Windows downloads the binaries to perform the elective user tracking upon the user making said choice, then technically yes, it does include code to perform what could be considered by some to be "surveillance code to track user behavior and send this information to vendor servers". Whether or not said code is actually called under a default installation without user consent is an entirely different matter.

Imagine a car that includes a GPS phone-home tracker. If you don't turn it on, that doesn't mean the car no longer includes a GPS phone-home tracker.

Another argument one could make is that when sold as an OEM package with what is often termed "bloatware" - there is other software (such as search bars, etc) which would qualify as "surveillance code to track user behavior and send this information to vendor servers", "included" with the Windows operating system (albeit not a part of the operating system per se, but included by the OEM)

Finally, Windows Activation could be considered to be performing at least "surveillance" over a couple of aspects of user activity - OS reinstalls and hardware modifications. Claiming "The above does not at all amount to surveillance code or behaviour." is purely subjective based on one's interpretation of "surveillance code or behaviour"

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[2]: unfair jab at Microsoft
by chekr on Thu 3rd Jan 2013 12:28 in reply to "RE: unfair jab at Microsoft"
chekr Member since:
2005-11-05

It is clear that your definition of surveillance is quite different from the norm. No point arguing.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: unfair jab at Microsoft
by UltraZelda64 on Thu 3rd Jan 2013 12:21 in reply to "unfair jab at Microsoft"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Only when you activate Windows does the Windows Activation Technology send the following information to the validation server:

•Computer make and model
•Version information for the operating system and software
•Region and language settings
•A unique number assigned to your computer by the tools (Globally Unique Identifier or GUID)
•Product Key (hashed) and Product ID
•BIOS name, revision number, and revision date
•Hard drive volume serial number (hashed)
•Whether the installation was successful if one was performed
•The result of the validation check, including error codes and information about any activation exploits and any related malicious or unauthorized software found or disabled

The above does not at all amount to surveillance code or behaviour.

Is any of that Microsoft's business? Fuck no... unless they built the machine themselves, in which case they wouldn't even need to have their OS call home to find all that information out.

sur·veil·lance:
- a watch kept over a person, group, etc., especially over a suspect, prisoner, or the like
- close and continuous observation or testing

The second is a medical definition, but I'd say they are both quite suitable for explaining what Windows does on behalf of its creator. Bottom line is, if you run Windows, Microsoft is keeping tabs on you and your computer. This has been known for years and I don't know how that can be denied with any kind of seriousness.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: unfair jab at Microsoft
by chekr on Thu 3rd Jan 2013 12:30 in reply to "RE: unfair jab at Microsoft"
chekr Member since:
2005-11-05

Your view of surveillance requires some mental gymnastics! I posit that this is not surveillance. It is a one-time product activation.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: unfair jab at Microsoft
by macinnisrr on Sat 5th Jan 2013 10:41 in reply to "unfair jab at Microsoft"
macinnisrr Member since:
2009-11-12

As with any proprietary software, how can you really know?

Reply Parent Score: 0