Sep 27, 2012

What do you think about Amazon search results being automatically in Dash searches on Ubuntu 12.10?

I'm not too happy that Ubuntu 12.10 in going to include Amazon search results in Dash. It seems that every time I turn around, there is another little chip away at the privacy of the individual. Am I being tinfoil hat on this, or does this rub other people the wrong way too?

There's nothing "tinfoil hat" about being skeptical regarding vendor assurances of user privacy. Google, Facebook, Apple and others have crossed the privacy line numerous times, only to (apparently) walk it back when their practices were discovered and criticized.

In his response, dniblock asks some valid questions about the "disable" option. I wonder why the feature's not strictly opt-in, which would be the best privacy-protecting option for the Amazon search results feature.


While I'm sympathetic to Canonical's need to generate revenue from their offerings, I'm not down with baking in a merchant's semi-spyware into my OS.  If they have an option to disable it, that's better, but what is it disabling?  Is it disabling any of my personal information from going to Amazon's servers when I do a search, or is disabling the display of results?  That's something I would want to know.  I don't like feeling like I'm in the movie Minority Report, constantly surrounded and followed by targeted advertising and marketing.  It's too much like being a commodity 24/7.  I think this was an error on the part of Canonical, and I also think it is at odds with the way most users see Linux.  

Ubuntu is saying that they are going to add a "kill switch" to turn off that feature. See this article:

Canonical adds a 'kill switch' for Ubuntu's Amazon search

"The new integration of Amazon search results in Ubuntu Linux 12.10 has stirred up quite a hornet's nest of controversy over the past week or so among observers unimpressed by Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth's calm assurances that users' privacy would be maintained.

According to two separate investigations over the past few days, in fact, Shuttleworth's explanation was not entirely correct, and users' information might be more exposed to Amazon servers than they might realize.

Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon followed up on Tuesday with news that searches will be encrypted, but today he also announced that Canonical is working on a kill switch for the Amazon search results feature."
Answer this