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Author Topic: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS  (Read 1936 times)

40hz

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Once again Ubuntu is making history in the Linux world. This time it's the wrong kind.

From OSNews (link):

Quote
Ubuntu abandons search privacy
posted by Howard Fosdick   on Thu 3rd Jan 2013 08:57 UTC

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.

The above article provided links to a well-balanced EFF analysis that's worth a read since it goes into how this works both from a technical and legal perspective and explains the relatively simple way (currently) to remove the tracking feature. I say "relatively simple" since there's no switch or control panel to shut it off. You need to open a terminal and issue a command (sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping) which virtually guarantees 90% of the people using Ubuntu under Unity will never do so.

And they said innovation was dead at Canonical? :-\

Full EFF article here.

Richard Stallman has also (surprise!, sursprise! >:D) weighed in on this over at his FSF blogspace. Read what RMS has to say about it here.

In the interests of confining DoCo discussions to mostly technical matters as Mouser has suggested, I'll not comment on any of this.

OK. Maybe I will just a little?
apple.jpg


Onward! :Thmbsup:

« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 10:40:37 AM by 40hz »

Renegade

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2013, 09:51:36 AM »
In the interests of confining DoCo discussions to mostly technical matters as Mouser has suggested, I'll not comment on any of this.

Ditto. ;)
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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

mahesh2k

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2013, 12:53:41 PM »
Quote
You need to open a terminal and issue a command (sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping) which virtually guarantees 90% of the people using Ubuntu under Unity will never do so.


TBH, people using unity and ubuntu are smart enough to use this hack and this hack is used in myunity and official option of turning off amazon search. So I don't think people will ignore that.

40hz

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2013, 02:56:22 PM »
TBH, people using unity and ubuntu are smart enough

Remains to be seen...

Possibly now with Ubu (and Linux) still not being mainstream enough for the average desktop.

But down the road, I wonder...

Especially after the number of WinPCs I've seen with all the crapware shortcuts still on the desktop two years after the owner first got their machine. (And many of these people have been using Windows since Win95!)

As the demographic changes, so too will the "monetization" games that get played.

Right now, Linux is fairly safe because it's still pretty geek. But if Canonical has its way, that won't be the case forever. Especially once they finally release their openly 'secret' tablet PC.

Just remember - whenever automated background processes are allowed to run (especially processes that have network communications capabilities) there is also a group of very knowledgeable people actively looking for ways to abuse and profit from it.

wolf at the door.jpg

Such a high price to pay for a little (debatable) user convenience and profit opportunity.
 :)
« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 03:05:27 PM by 40hz »

mahesh2k

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2013, 03:16:03 PM »
I do agree that tracking search queries and user behavior is bad. But how many linux users stop using Google for the same reason? Using linux with some ethics and then pointing browsers to Google that does the same like amazon, makes no difference. I don't think they do see this point, so on what stance they say that canonical is not allowed to use amazon search? (We know amazon tracks data just like google and canonical is helping them do that for profit).

The same doesn't apply for their usage of Google because they like it or got used to it etc. I would hold arguments from linux community with much respect if they call "spade a spade" and put every similar card in same line. Especially RMS and EFF when they are making claims out of thin air.

I think RMS and EFF painted canonical in much darker shade using Media. That said, people moving to ubuntu out of consumer frustration and paranoia are smart already to avoid such affiliate links and stuff. Calling it Spyware (fsf reference) and user tracking corporation (Eff reference) is exaggeration, IMO.

40hz

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2013, 03:39:27 PM »
^They could have made it opt-in.

That's not very much to ask for is it?

But they didn't.

Nor did they include a simple and obvious mechanism to opt-out. (see below comments)

So since they're not doing it that way, perhaps it may be instructive to ask why.

Because it's obviously not an oversight on their part. :)

And it's always worth remembering that a background communication process makes no distinction between which parties are accessing it. If you deliberately punch a potential security hole in something, there's no sure way of knowing what might eventually crawl through it.
:tellme:

This isn't politics - or "just" another social or privacy issue. It's a legitimate network and data security concern. 8)

-------------------------------
@m -
Especially RMS and EFF when they are making claims out of thin air.

If you interpret  ;)what was being said by the EFF or RMS as "making claims out of thin air" then you really need to read what they said again.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 04:03:33 PM by 40hz »

mahesh2k

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2013, 03:49:26 PM »
Quote
They could have made it opt-in.

They did, there is an option in System settings for turning off amazon lens. Also you can completely remove via myunity or the terminal.

If you're asking for that opt-in during installation, I give you that they didn't provided but there is setting in the system settings pane for that.

Ath

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2013, 03:54:04 PM »
there is an option in System settings for turning off amazon lens.
Isn't that called opt-out?

40hz

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2013, 03:58:38 PM »
^Myunity is not an official part of Ubuntu. AFAIK it's still an independently developed and maintained hack.

It's also not hosted in the official repositories. You need to add a ppa to your software sources on order to install it.

One more hoop to jump through...

That would be like saying you should never complain about something Microsoft did in Windows because there are tweaking tools you can download from Filehippo to fix them.
 ;D


40hz

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2013, 04:02:45 PM »
there is an option in System settings for turning off amazon lens.
Isn't that called opt-out?

Apparently I missed that if so. In which case I stand corrected on that point. :-[

I'll still stand behind the rest of what I said however. :Thmbsup:

mahesh2k

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2013, 04:22:52 PM »
We are talking about linux modded by ubuntu, nothing is official for ubuntu. Their kernel is debians child. Their apps are written by other developers. Unity is fork of Gnome 3. Also Myunity is hosted on launchpad (canonical property) for program, bugs hosting and bazaar, also supported under official LTS repo. Besides that they also offered option of turning off the feature, which you can't compare with MS and apple. I don't understand how we are treating canonical on equal footing like MS. If we can treat canonical as spyware then adding adsense ads on any blog also makes that site spyware host, no? Google collects personal data while serving ads, just like amazon.

40hz

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Re: Canonical now joins Microsoft and Apple in tracking users of its OS
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2013, 04:25:00 PM »
If we can treat canonical as spyware then adding adsense ads on any blog also makes that site spyware host, no?

Yes. It does IMHO.  :)