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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I think people are overreacting
by Nelson on Thu 3rd Jan 2013 14:37 UTC
Member since:

Now I haven't used 12.10, but it seems like they do data collection the right way. You can opt-out, and they have a privacy policy letting you know what they collect.

What is the issue? I understand some of you would rather no data be collected at all, but then you also would like a free OS and with that, all your pie in the sky free OS principals too.

Canonical is a business and has to face business realities. If this pays the bills, is done in a reasonable way, and doesn't violate any common sense privacy concerns, then why not?

It must be terrible to do any kind of development for such a pedantic bunch of lunatics.

Reply Score: 4

Alfman Member since:


The problem is that privacy encroaching behaviours should be opt in for consumers so that they make a conscious & informed decision on the matter. Unfortunately it's standard practice in most commercial industries to use opt out approaches instead, and I don't think there's any secret as to why.

Look at US banking. Banks collect personal information on an opt-out basis about their customers and resell it, fully knowing that it's going to be used by advertisers to send unsolicited mail. I called my bank to opt-out, which is when I learned that each single account under me had it's own opt-out flag. If I were in the position to change the law, I'd at least require the advertisers to disclose their source of the information so that the recipient knows exactly who ratted out their personal details.

Of course advertisers love having blanket access to personal data, but there needs to be a balance and my own opinion is that the balance should be an "opt-in" permission basis.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Nelson Member since:

I just don't think its that big of a deal IF they are clear that you can opt-out, and exactly how to do so.

However, for the sake of common ground, switching it to opt-in would likely appease a bunch of people.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Morgan Member since:

I take bigger issue with the previously discussed donation model they came up with recently. On the front page, they say "Ubuntu is free and it always will be." Yet when you go to download it, you are faced with the donation widget which has every slider already set at $2 each, for a total of $16. It's trivial to hit the "Not now, take me to the download" link, but that link is off to the side in a thin font face, while the donation button is big and bold. If you set all the sliders to zero, you get a menacing looking skull icon, instead of the nice looking "your donation costs the same as this funky item you buy every day" icons.

I realize they are up front about it being a donation and not a license fee or sale price, but the entire presentation is designed to guilt you into paying up.

It's not really a big deal overall, but it's still far worse than a shopping lens that is a single command away from being disabled.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Lazarus Member since:

If you set all the sliders to zero, you get a menacing looking skull icon, instead of the nice looking "your donation costs the same as this funky item you buy every day" icons.

Not that I didn't believe you, but I just had to check that myself. It also tops out at the price of a dromedary camel =/

Anyway, what I first noticed when I went to was the following text in a great big strip across the top of my screen:

We use cookies to improve your experience of By continuing to explore without changing your settings, you are agreeing to accept them. To learn how to change these settings, please see our privacy policy.

Not only does it not really make sense, but I only have my browser set to block third party cookies, so I'm getting an eye-full of non-sense over something that's likely ad related (best guess, not taking the time to look).

Ubuntu, I block third party cookies for reasons that are none of your business. By continuing to employ them, while putting up a great big nag banner complaining about it, you are agreeing to suck my balls. To learn how to suck my balls, go to and purchase a pornographic primer.

Yeah, that was juvenile and stupid, but it made just as much sense as the garbage on

If this is how they treat potential users, it is no surprise at all that they'll pull crap like the Amazon search lens being enabled by default.

Reply Parent Score: 1

UltraZelda64 Member since:

Wow... I didn't even notice their site got so bad. I bet they wish now that they didn't promise right from the start that Ubuntu will be free, because now it wouldn't exactly be a good idea to change that and force charging as I'm sure they'd love to do since they've reached such popular status. I looked at the site, and it really does seem to give more prominence to donating than actually downloading.

I would argue that the "download" page is actually the worst place to put this kind of nagging/begging anyway. It should be a dedicated page linked to on the home page (and other pages) where everyone will see it, neatly out of the way but still visible. What happens when potential new users arrive to the site? They might be impressed at first, but then scared away by the download page before they even get to try it. From a possible new user's perspective, it would seem more like they're begging for a donation first, being given a download later.

Meanwhile, all the faithful users of the distribution will no doubt remember the Ubuntu website and check it periodically for updates. These people will have already seen all there is to see at the site, so the existence of a donation page will not be unknown. They already know and probably like Ubuntu; these are the people that are likely to be willing to donate, and they need no help learning about donations. Why scare away the newcomers?

Reply Parent Score: 2