Don't include remote searches in the home lens

Bug #1054776 reported by Thomas Kluyver on 2012-09-22
This bug affects 513 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Recent news ( indicates that the home lens will, by default, search Amazon for products to put in the 'More suggestions' section. This means that regular searches for local applications and files are transmitted to a remote server, which I believe breaks an expectation of privacy. It also seems somewhat tasteless for my operating system to be advertising things I might want to buy. Finally, the idea that Ubuntu is now ad-supported has brought considerable negative PR on tech news sites like Slashdot and Hacker News.

All of these problems could be easily avoided if the shopping lens were separate, rather than showing results in the home lens. The shopping results would still be very convenient when the user wanted to see them - they could opt in with a single click, as we currently can with the video lens, for example.

To anticipate one likely response: I understand that this feature can be removed by uninstalling the package. I believe it should be opt-in, not opt-out, and I also think the feature is useful, so I don't want to remove it completely from my system.

Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Jonathan Jesse (jjesse) wrote :

As I've stated numerous times on various discussions this needs to be an opt-in and not an opt-out by uninstalling a package. If it is an opt-in I might even opt-in for it on my machines that run Ubuntu

vexorian (vexorian) wrote :

It will make every advocate's livfe easier if we don't have to explain to everyone how shopping ads appearing on any desktop search does not actually mean "ubuntu is adware".

Connor Carney (cscarney) wrote :

The fact that the lens in question shows advertisements is not relevant to this problem. The same problem is true of *any* lens that performs online queries with the "active-global-search" property, even if the results are useful. It's a common use case to open local files and applications by summoning the dash and typing a file name. Doing an online search with those queries has the effect of leaking those file names to the service provider (and possibly also your ISP/IT department/hotspot operator/government).

Stephan Sokolow (ssokolow) wrote :

I don't know who marked this as a duplicate of bug 1054741 but it's not. The reverse may be true, but "sending local searches to a remote server should be opt-in" is definitely not a subordinate duplicate of "you forgot to update the privacy policy to mention it"

In addition to the privacy concerns stated above, I'd just like to add that this causes a *huge* hit to usability. There is already a lot of information presented in the dash home, and adding a stream of information that is probably totally irrelevant to a given search goes against the whole point of having the dash - namely to find stuff more easily.

Example: I keep a journal on my computer. It is a file named journal.odt. If I type in journal, I just want to see that journal (and maybe some relevant programs, like Gnome Activity Journal). I don't want to see icons for: "Hand - Deadroom Journal [2008] $7.77"; "Taylor Dupree - Journal [2011] $2.79"; "Bridge 61 - Journal [2006] $8.99"; "Jully - Journal Intime [2008] $9.99"; "Arabica - Journal [2010] $9.99"; "Dday One - Journal [2011] $2.79... and that's just one line.

That this turns every desktop search in to an advertisement threatens to make Ubuntu seem like adware itself, as vexorian mentions above, but even if one finds these options useful, the amount of clutter added to the dash home is a problem.

Making this a separate lens would solve both these issues to an extent, since if the user went specifically to the shopping lens there would at least be the assumption that the user wants to actually buy something. Integrating it with the home lens makes no sense since the vast, vast majority of times a user types something into the dash they don't want to buy something new, but rather want find something that is already on their computer.

This, coupled with the privacy concerns mentioned above (which are really, really serious), ultimately means that even a separate lens should be an *opt-in* feature - especially considering the vast majority of users will have no clue how to disable it.

EwS (ewsdk) wrote :


Tory (tory-andrew-law) wrote :

The privacy concerns here are not just a matter of preference, but something which could open legal liability. Imagine a person who queries what they think is their local system and instead by accident discloses trade secrets, health information, etc. The disclosure of trade secrets would not just be a mere inconvenience, or something that leaves you feeling icky, but something that could cause serious financial damage.

Further, do not forget legislation like PIPEDA in Canada and other substantially similar legislation from around the world.

Etienne Perot (etienneperot) wrote :

Sorry, but I think you'd be infringing on Apple's patent by implementing this:

We all know how lawsuit-trigger-happy Apple can be...

So let Apple be the first operating system to have ads. Nobody would want to be the first guy to do such a thing.

RaduStoica (radumstoica) wrote :

I do not like the fact that this lens is integrated in the home lens. If you use the home lens for local searches, as it is meant to be used, this in effect will send to third-parties information about what files and programs you are using, which is a significant breach of privacy. Apart from this, having a shopping lens, which can be used separately, would be a fine idea.

gitarr (gitarr) wrote :

Come on, there must be better ways to make money.

This is a direct attack on users privacy by sending, what the user thinks are local searches, to Amazon. If this really will be implemented, Ubuntu and Canonical will lose all the trust they had to work hard for to gain. Linux users in general are a technical and very privacy aware people, who cannot and will not stand for this.

I for one always used to go around and promote Ubuntu as a great OS for everyone, with this rather shady move you'll take very good arguments away from me and I will have to look elsewhere for a distribution where the user is king and not the advertising partners of Canonical.

Q v A (quintesv) wrote :

I prefer opt-in. Private searches may be compromised. I opt for removal of this item and have it placed on some sort of a visibile specific shopping dash.

Stephan Sokolow (ssokolow) wrote :

Despite being a Canadian, I have no familiarity with PIPEDA, but I remember seeing comments on a Firefox bug that suggests German privacy law may be even more strict.

payload (payload) wrote :

I suggest a opt-in with a privacy protection notice.

- to prevent accidental leakage of local information (file paths)
  - have a separate search bar for online searches
  - a local filter won't make it, cause an error in the file path (typing "secrez-filename" won't exactly match locally, but some fuzzy matching online would alarm some special person "oh, where is a 'secret-filename'!")

- to inform the user what data is shared with others
  - pop up a notice about what, who, why (the obvious needs to be told) etc.
  - if he wants it or not ("no" and "yes")
  - consequences in case of clicking "no"
  - a link to the third party (amazon) privacy agenda
  - required by german law (especially cause its commercial? would need to look that up)
  - a checkbox somewhere to revoke

- granularity and configurability is your judgement

Jesus, just put that stuff into a dedicated lens.

George Ryan (george-ryan) wrote :

You're going to send all of my application and file searches to Amazon? How can this not be a flagrant violation of my privacy? As much as I like Ubuntu, this feature is going to make me switch back to Debian and donate $10 a year to them.

Michael Scherer (misc-zarb) wrote :

For the record, the plugin work by sending requests to$request, who give back a json array with everything. So nothing is directly sent to amazon.

Thomas Kluyver (takluyver) wrote :

Let's give the developers a chance to respond before this descends into flaming. I know we feel strongly about it, but I think keeping the atmosphere civil improves the chances of getting it fixed. All the comments so far are quite civil, but there's a heated tone starting to develop.

This is already the bug with the most 'heat' (the flame symbol) for the unity-lens-shopping package, just 12 hours after it was opened. So I'm optimistic that the developers will take it seriously.

Stephan Sokolow (ssokolow) wrote :


Perhaps more impressive, it's already result number 316 of 99550 (and climbing) when sorting the bug list for the entire Ubuntu launchpad project by heat.

Edwin de Jong (g-e-dejong-9) wrote :

If this was a planned feature I will switch to another distribution right away and will strongly advice my coworkers to take similar actions since my trust in Canonical's decision process has disappeared. Any rational user will make similar conclusions.

Besides, Michael commented the plugin will send it unencrypted to Ubuntu. Regardless my trust in Ubuntu/Canonical, not using an SSL connection seems an amateur decision and seriously undermines my privacy even more.

What a poor, poor decision. Treating your user base in this way is atrocious.

zaphodbblx (zaphodbblx) wrote :

Please don't...even if you start charging a nominal fee to use the OS please don't go down this road

Mr. Blonde (mr.blonde) wrote :

Can we please have search-related porn offers displayed be default?

Thomas Kluyver (takluyver) wrote :

@mr.blonde: According to bug #1054282, you can.

vexorian (vexorian) wrote :

I think that there should be a "world" lens that integrates all network-based searches. Could be web searches, wikipedia searches, contacts, etc. The home tab should be about ... home. It should only integrate local stuff. (Beyond of making ubuntu get blamed of becoming adware*, it is a serious usability issue to mix local and network searches).

*After reading Mark's statements. Sorry, but this definitely turns ubuntu into adware. Users will be receiving unrequested shopping suggestions when possibly looking for stuff in their own systems and it does give Canonical a profit. The only name for this is that they are ads.

If the default was to turn them off so users wanting to see suggestions would be able to turn it on. Then they would be a useful service. But enabled without request they are ads. The best solution for now would be not making these results appear in home tab unless the user sets an option to make them.

Otherwise 12.10 is going to be very grim for ubuntu's reputation. It is a shame because unity was getting so much better now, but if it is estigmatized with ubuntu's adware attempts, it will really be the killing blow on its chances of adoption.

DK (dkretz) wrote :

Count me in for supporting a dedicated lens that is easy to toggle on and off.

Jonathan Chan (jchan-3) wrote :

Mark Shuttleworth's "logic" (you already trust us not to install a trojan via update, etc.) is disturbing, business-unfriendly, and akin to your government saying "here, you already trust us to not kill you randomly. We'll just expedite the trial process and get back to you with a verdict now- here it is, you're to be executed on the spot. May God have mercy on your soul."

Adam Honse (calcprogrammer1) wrote :

This is a deal breaker for me, I love Ubuntu but when it becomes too commercialized for its own good and starts spying on its users I can no longer run it with pride. I've switched my desktop over to Linux Mint which has no such privacy concerns. If you think this is a good move, think again, you're damaging the trust you've gained among users and opening up a privacy/legal can of worms that will just lead to bad PR and negative comments. The way this is implemented really shows that Canonical cares more about money than providing a clean desktop, if they wanted a clean desktop they would put this in its own section or get rid of it altogether/make it opt-in because I doubt most people would want it.

Bathroom Humor (bafroomhumor) wrote :

I've made this comment on the issue on an OMGubuntu article:
"Shopping should have it's own lens, making room for other shopping related scopes to integrate into it later (like newegg and whatnot).
And I personally think that the home lens should have access to every scope in the dash, but which ones it displays should be optional and easy to configure!"
This would avoid the cries of horror from those who believe canonical are giving amazon the ability to somehow monitor all of our searches. Somehow...

Andros83 (mail-ceandrea) wrote :

All of these problems could be easily avoided if the shopping lens were separate, rather than showing results in the home lens. The shopping results would still be very convenient when the user wanted to see them - they could opt in with a single click, as we currently can with the video lens, for example.

AndyVoutour (andyvoutour) wrote :

Agree with @29, this is a deal breaker. I think 12.04 is my last Ubuntu for.. at least six months apparently, until our (are we sure he's benevolent?) dictator rethinks this one through.

shaunesau (shaunesau) wrote :

Agree with @29 & @32 -- the privacy implications of this change are exceedingly obvious and should have been sufficient to prevent the "feature" being included by default in 12.10. If this was implemented as an opt-in feature, I can't imagine any strong opposition, but while *I* may know how to quickly remove it, my Ubuntu-using friends and family do not. Given that, I can't recommend that they upgrade to 12.10 and will be migrating to an alternate distro once 12.04 starts to feel long in the tooth.

nhasian (nhasian) wrote :

It doesn't have to be a deal-breaker. a simple "sudo apt-get install gnome-shell" will fix the problem.

Andrew (tuxlover684) wrote :

I whole-heartedly agree.

I now use #! and Debian before this fiasco, but now I am now recommending Mint or #! until this goes or it becomes opt-in. "Wait until 14.04" is not an acceptable solution for us.

OerHeks (oerheks) wrote :

This security flaw affects me too.

skipx (bartok) wrote :

Canonical getting a touch of Apple and Mickysoft.. You would be surprised to see hwo easey people will go en mass to other grown up distributions like Fedora or Suse. When I tell people about Unix/Linux and Ubuntu they seem to love the fact that it feels non-comercial the most . As soon as the comercial aspect drops in people will opt out of Ubuntu, not just of Lens..
I will encourage that move. I maintain 19 desktops at my work (system administrator) that will become Fedora machines.

iweb (bor-mbm) wrote :

This is in IMHO the worst idea Canonical ever had.

Jim (jimvernon) wrote :

This is not a bug. It is a complaint.

Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Invalid
Jonathan Chan (jchan-3) wrote :

NIce job trying to shut out dissent by marking this bug invalid, jimvernon. It was originally made on the Ubuntu forums, wherein a moderator suggested it be moved here.

Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Invalid → Opinion
Mr. Blonde (mr.blonde) on 2012-09-23
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Opinion → Confirmed
Jim (jimvernon) on 2012-09-23
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Invalid
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Invalid → New
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Invalid
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Invalid → Confirmed
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Opinion
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Opinion → Confirmed
Adam (adam-siembida) on 2012-09-24
visibility: public → private
Haw Loeung (hloeung) on 2012-09-25
visibility: private → public
Domagoj Bet (jack6543) on 2012-09-26
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Domagoj Bet (jack6543)
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
assignee: Domagoj Bet (jack6543) → nobody
Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Otaku-8 (otaku-8)
assignee: Otaku-8 (otaku-8) → nobody
104 comments hidden view all 184 comments

I to agree that this is a blatent disregard to user privacy and basically goes against what Richard Stallman and others wanted for the Free Open Source Software Movement ages ago. GNU at it's heart. I feel it should be an "opt in" versus and "opt out" by default. Please fix this issue, until then I have moved over to Linux Mint which doesn't invade my privacy by default.

strav (strav) wrote :

Ubuntu is a big gal now. 2 am, Johannesburg's streets are steaming hot. With her new gloss on, still frail on high heels, shopping bag in hands, Ubuntu walks slowly in circles around the side walk. Not before long, one of these old 70's mercedes stops by with a long squeaking sound. The driver asks with a tone of confusion: "hey babe, kinda lost here, you think you could help me out?" Ubuntu: "Ahhhh man, sure! wanna have a good time?"

The driver: "Gal, gal! if you plan to do anything with that mouth, better take Mint before!"

Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Triaged
importance: Undecided → Critical
Jeremy Bicha (jbicha) wrote :

Chauncellor, please don't mark bugs as Critical unless they meet the criteria at

I'm setting this to Wishlist since it would be somewhat a new feature for the shopping lens to not put results in the home lens.

This probably is actually a WONTFIX item since the Unity design is for the home lens to search across all the lenses, and it's possible for users to opt out of the shopping results if they don't want them.

Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
importance: Critical → Wishlist

Jeremy: the fact that the Shopping Lens is opt-out instead of opt-in is precisely why this bug exists. Is there some reason why shopping results (or, better yet, web searches in general) couldn't be relegated to their own separate lens icon in the Dash? Are users honestly using the Dash's Home Lens to search for Amazon products? I find it more likely/plausible that users would be using the Home Lens' search box for finding local things.

This can't be "wishlist": This was working correctly in 12.04 so it's clearly a REGRESSION.

Jeremy Bicha (jbicha) wrote :

Northrup, I'm not responsible for the Unity design nor am I really taking sides.

It's important to understand the Unity design if you want to influence those that do make the decisions. The design as I understand is that you should be able to open the Dash by either clicking the first button in the top left or pressing the Super key and find whatever you'd want to find. It should tell you the weather, it should give you movie results (whether downloaded to your computer, available for purchase, or even showing in movie theatres), apps (whether installed or not installed), etc.

Fundamentally, that requires it to be a global search or universal search which requires sending data across the Internet. Because that design would generally be useful to average people and it is still somewhat unique (although Google Now or Siri are similar in some ways), it *will* be turned on by default. Since there is a fairly easy way to opt out in System Settings>Privacy, it doesn't seem like there is any actual action for Canonical or community developers to take on this bug.

John Wang (johnwang) wrote :

Jeremy: I remind you that the original report and many comments here aren't pushing exclusively for total removal of online results from the Home lens, rather they're also suggesting a compromise position between that and the current status quo: make this feature opt-in. I haven't seen a statement anywhere from Canonical regarding the opt-in proposal. Please don't mark this bug WONTFIX without discussing that alternative.

That is quite true. Most people also want flash, but it's an optional check-box during installation process. Why not add another one.

Jeremy Bicha (jbicha) wrote :

John, sorry the bug title is about showing remote results in the Dash home, not about whether it should be opt-out or opt-in or whether there should be an installer question asking what users want.

Kirils, the shopping lens didn't exist until 12.10 so technically it's impossible for this to be a regression since the shopping lens has always worked this way.

Jeremy: The difference between the Dash and, say, Google Now is that one typically does not use Google Now to launch applications or find local files (I don't know if that's even possible). Siri typically doesn't do as much of those things either; it can launch apps, but since iOS doesn't (without jailbreaking) reveal the contents of its filesystem, searching for local files is out of the question there. Not to mention that both Android and iOS have an app list to go to as the primary launch method *instead* of Now/Siri/etc., whereas the Dash (or rather, a lens of it) *is* the "app drawer" so to speak.

Thus, the use cases for both Google Now and Siri are quite different from that of the Dash; instead, the Dash's use seems to be more in line with a Start Menu, being it the primary method of launching applications that aren't already in the sidebar. Because it's used as a Start Menu rather than a Siri, users expect to see results on *their* machine, not on the web.

I understand the idea that Unity is going for. What I'm saying is that it can be done in a way that doesn't intrude on user privacy and introduce a gaping hole in Ubuntu's security. That's why the Shopping "Lens" (it isn't even its own lens, so calling it the "Shopping Lens" is misleading...) has been drawing so much criticism, and why that needs to be fixed if Canonical cares about user privacy and safety.

And yes, you can opt-out. But why should we have to opt out? If users want Amazon integration, why can't they opt in?

John Wang (johnwang) wrote :

Jeremy: You well know that oftentimes a bug title doesn't sum up the entirety of the report itself. And in this case, the report proposes an alternative solution to the one stated in the title:

"To anticipate one likely response: I understand that this feature can be removed by uninstalling the package. I believe it should be opt-in, not opt-out, and I also think the feature is useful, so I don't want to remove it completely from my system."

It is disingenuous to ignore that point for not being mentioned in the bug title. But if you insist on that line of reasoning, the bug title can always be edited to reflect the opt-in compromise.

Guys, I would continue to set this so hard onto critical importance over and over again until I'm banned from ever using LP again if it achieved anything. I'm sorry that there's nothing we can do to stop this madness.

Jeremy Bicha (jbicha) wrote :

John, separate issues need separate bugs. With 157 comments, this bug report is already well past long enough to be useful. A bug requesting the shopping feature be opt-in should be only about that issue and not about whether remote searches show in the home lens.

unimatrix9 (jochemscheelings) wrote :

its not a wishlist, its critical.

the report is here for a lot of reasons. When you look at nautilus, you again see the home folder, it shows what it should show, a local, personal folder, in the dash from all points of view it should do the same thing, show local results only. Its that simple. Its very critical to ubuntu, that it does not loose its Credibility to the world.

There would be no report if people dont care , we do care.

Xavier Guillot (valeryan-24) wrote :

Problem for the moment with the opt-out is that it's global : if we turn off in the Privacy options, it turns off the Dash home ALL internet searches, not only shopping ones...

Perhaps I want to see by default in home the Gwibber lens results but not Amazon ones, and if I have something to buy, I activate it or go to shopping lens.

So at least we need in Raring a very more complete configurable option in the Privacy, to be able to select lens by lens :

- which one(s) we want to keep installed on the system, on or off

- from which one(s) we want to see results in Dash home, too

Both can be activated and "On" by default, as it is Unity purpose and wish, but we should get the possibility to configure them precisely.

Today it's not satisfying : I do not want to "apt-get remove shopping-lens" as I buy sometimes in Amazon (and perhaps with the future commercial partners) and would be happy to support Ubuntu by this way.

I do not want shopping results shown in Home, but I want Gwibber ones, so I can not turn off "online search" option...

So perhaps we need to open a new bug, but this option would be the minimum that Canonical should provide users.

Marius B. Kotsbak (mariusko) wrote :

It's clear that we need a separate local home lens (that searches all local sources) and one global one that searches both local and remote sources. This is because it might be that you want to do both at different times and don't want to turn off and on the privacy option each time.

Maybe make it configurable as in Android which sources to search in the global search. And maybe even let people make their own set of meta-scopes that searches in a set of sources.

Thomas Kluyver (takluyver) wrote :

To reiterate my perspective as the person who filed this bug: there's a mass of critical commentary elsewhere on the web, and I wanted to ensure that this translated into a polite, factual discussion in a location where Ubuntu developers can't skip over it.

The reasons I think this default is a bad thing are that it breaches an expectation of privacy, it's tasteless (commercial content when I'm not asking for it), and it's continuing to bring Ubuntu massive negative PR. Sadly, despite the criticism - from hundreds of users, from the EFF, from Richard Stallman - it seems like the decision is made and won't be changed. The whole episode leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

unimatrix9 (jochemscheelings) wrote :

so its a dead end right now, because one person has moved it to wishlist , the bug should be submitted in an other form.
somethins like , `nautilus shows the home icon as local , dash should do the same .. , show local search results only from design point of view`?

unimatrix9 (jochemscheelings) wrote :

any movement in the right direction ?

papukaija (papukaija) wrote :

No, canonical needs more money.

unimatrix9 (jochemscheelings) wrote :

this is not an duplicate of :
it might look so in first review, but its not, could some one please remove that link ?

Don't include remote searches in the home lens , is still the topic, shopping lens should not by default be in the
home icon, home suggests a private local place. Move the shopping lens away from the home and the issue is gone.

unimatrix9 (jochemscheelings) wrote :

some news on the issue on omg ubuntu , , makes it more difficult, i think , why the rather simple step of removing shopping searches from the home lens is not choosen still unclear. But more control seems to be on the way.

unimatrix9 (jochemscheelings) wrote :

Mark Shuttleworth (sabdfl) wrote on 2013-02-17: #6

Here's how we are going to handle this:

 * We will make a very bold, clear way for you to turn on and off
network queries across ALL scopes for any given session in the dash.
Think about this like the 'anonymous' mode in your browser. Toggle it,
right there in the Dash, and you are totally certain you are not sending
network traffic. We will aim to enforce this at the kernel level, hence
the CC to Jamie S who leads our security team.

 * We will have the ability to configure the Home screen, including
choice of scopes, and the behaviour of individual scopes.

 * Legal notices will all be in one place, in the 'About Ubuntu' part of
the UX, and visible in the install experience too.


JaSauders (jasauders) wrote :
Download full text (3.8 KiB)

I'm quite surprised this issue has not been taken care of by now. When it first surfaced I almost ignored it because I thought for sure enough noise will be made to reverse this decision. I fully understand the business side of it, but it really is far from logical when you look at it from the end user point of view. To date, approximately 0 people I know personally have considered the Amazon integration to be a good thing. Oddly enough, most find it weird, intrusive, or scary to have on the system by default. I've installed Ubuntu on countless machines for people, and everyone has contacted me wondering how the computer is magically showing them relevant shopping searches. To most people, it's scary. It's not helpful, it's downright scary. If this would be an option that the user would need to enable, it'd be a totally different story because then the user knows it's there and the user knows what to expect as a result. In a world where malware is a common practice it stands to good reason that even your most computer illiterate grandma out there would be nervous about how a computer knows so much about what you just typed in. Once you take a step back and look at this situation without any degree of bias or with some sort of business related underlying agenda, you'll see that, guaranteed.

By default, I disable the privacy and shopping integration as a first step when I install Ubuntu. I find that I'm downright angry each time I do it, because I know, deep down, it's not right. It's. Just. Not. Right. Having this enabled by default is just foolish and I am beyond disgusted with the fact that it's here by default.

But wait... there's a catch... I've been an Ubuntu user since 2006, and I have tried countless other distributions but each time I come back to Ubuntu. I love what Canonical is doing and I love how Ubuntu is shaping up to be such a fantastic and easy to use (yet crazy powerful) distribution. In the event that this option was disabled by default, I would actually go out of my way to enable it. Yeah - not joking here. I work in IT, so I'm continually having to purchase various parts for systems. Amazon is, ironically, my first (and usually my only) stop to finding what I need. In the event that this was disabled by default I would put forth the effort to support Canonical and Ubuntu by ensuring that each purchase I made I would do so via the Unity dash. But considering that it's enabled by default, I find myself so incredibly disgusted that I find it's difficult to even use Ubuntu any more. I can't help but to wonder "what's next" on the agenda if things like this are going to be baked into the operating system from the get-go. Fortunately, there are other distributions that don't have "features" like this enabled, which are becoming all too attractive with each passing day...

I know I'm just one person, so clearly I understand that what I just said will hardly be persuasive. Instead, I'll let the masses do the talking. As a frequent user of the UbuntuForums, AskUbuntu, and the Ubuntu IRC channels, I have yet to find a single end user who has said "This was a good idea." That's not an exaggeration - that's a straight up fact based ...


Thomas Kluyver (takluyver) wrote :

To record a few of those 'things to do after installing Ubuntu' articles. Disabling the Amazon results is:

Number 8 in
Number 2 in
Number 6 in
Number 1 in

The first 2 of those also specifically mention how to remove the shopping lens, if you want to keep using other online lenses. That suggests to me that, at least for some users, it's the Amazon results specifically that are an annoyance, not

It's a slight exaggeration that it features in every list; while the majority seem to have it, there are some that don't, like this:

I think it's pretty clear by now that this default isn't what users want, and Ubuntu continues to get bad press from it.

unimatrix9 (jochemscheelings) wrote :

Could some one create an package that would replace the default home lens with an home lens that does local search only by default ?

Would that be an idea ?

Would rather have seen the other options afcause..

Daniel Jose (danieldsj) wrote :

I filed a bug that presents an alternative to the current shopping lens: Allow users to add Amazon accounts to "Online Accounts", then present results based on the presence of the account.

I believe this is an over-all better framework because it's opt-in and can scale to other online retailers (ebay, steam, newegg thinkgeek, etc.). Here's the bug:

Colin Law (colin-law) wrote :

Recent posters please read comment #167. The plan is there to sort it, it just has not yet been implemented yet.

Darxus (darxus) wrote :

Colin: Comment #167 says nothing about it defaulting to off.

vexorian (vexorian) wrote :

Given recent revelations , I think the discussion regarding the ethics leaving some scopes in the default and even their inclusion in the repositories repositories should be revisited.

If you want me to be more explicit:

- We know that youtube is part of PRISM.
- We don't know if Amazon joined PRISM or not. The only big US company we know refused to "cooperate by making NSA access easier" is twitter. Amazon is still a US-located company and thus is bound to the law and court orders that allow this , and so is twitter.

I think this should be a concern to non-US citizens using Ubuntu. In the case of Amazon, searches are made from Canonical's servers. But that may not be enough of a protection. NSA could target specific communications between Canonical and US servers. If they knew a special individual is a ubuntu user they could listen to the home searches of all users in order to attempt to datamine them. I think that the scope of PRISM and the extremes that we now know NSA is capable of should make Canonical reconsider these decisions as they now have risks much higher than Amazon learning what sort of porn you like.

I agree completely with vexorian with this issue. In light of PRISM, I now have even greater aversion to recommending Ubuntu to a new Linux user.

luke (lukefromdc) wrote :

I've alwys suspected the sort of thing the Snowden documents on PRISM, etc prove. That's why I removed Unity when this issue came up. It was replaced in my backup DE list with a Cairo-dock/Compiz session. For my main DE I use Cinnamon, but Unity with all scopes removed MIGHT be safe. Trouble is, for the sort of folks I distribute computers to I cannot take a chance and cannot distribute an OS known to put local activity of ANY type on a network.

I consider all online scopes to be a threat, as combining local with online searches could enable the NSA over time to figure out the content of your filesystem. Also, if ever the NSA finds and exploits a vulnerability in a scope, that would be an obvious target for exploitation, as the dock already talks to the network, and already lists files. Therefore, it is in the same category as installing a webserver in a machine that will never be used as a webserver: unused exploitable software that talks to the network. This does not require any malicious intent by Canonical, only malicious intent by the NSA or any other attacker.

Therefore, I now do not distribute Ubuntu's main distro. 12.04 and earlier are safe but getting old fast-and if someone updates 12.04 to a new version and does so with Ubuntu-Desktop installed I don't know if they get the scopes. As of now, if not distributing my own private fork, I give out either Mint or UbuntuStudio, the former with Cinnamon or MATE, the latter with XFCE.

D S (d-s) wrote :

I am immediately stopping my recommendations for using Ubuntu, and actively recommending against it based on this invasive and backhanded leaking of private information without an appropriate opt-in and explanation. Ubuntu, you failed, and now you pay the consequences.

Duststorm (duststorm-design) wrote :

Ubuntu has won an anti-privacy award for their dubious practices:

Are you really not going to rethink your position?

Sad to see how a project like Ubuntu gives a bad reputation to FOSS software.
It's a slap in the face for everyone who has promoted Ubuntu to large audiences for years.

I don't think this is quite an invasion of privacy, but this is still just "clunky" feeling. Why not have a dedicated lens for shopping? I would love to have a lens with a generic bag which shows me products from Amazon, eBay, Newegg, Tiger Direct, Walmart, etc. That would be useful. Furthermore, it would fit the whole feel to Unity (Smart scopes, search anywhere, etc.) while still allowing for profit to Canonical without causing any major issues amongst users.

My question: Why not?

Nikola M (nikolam) wrote :

I am not using Ubuntu anymore because of this. It started with UbuntuOne and reporting my IP
and now it went to Ubuntu not serving to the user and customer, but to the interests of external companies, and that is not is a spirit of the word Ubuntu.
So I stopped recommending Ubuntu to anyone, after Unity and Canonical decisions to put searches out by default, without users wanting it.
I think Xubuntu does not have any of this personal info leaking features.

Removing unity-scope-home causes lots of problems. Instead run the following command in the Terminal to disable the spyware:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses disabled-scopes "['more_suggestions- amazon.scope', 'more_suggestions-u1ms.scope', 'more_suggestions-populartracks.scope', 'music-musicstore.scope', 'more_suggestions-ebay.scope', 'more_suggestions-ubuntushop.scope', 'more_suggestions-skimlinks.scope']"

JaSauders (jasauders) wrote :

So let me get this straight...

100% of the time when I type into the dash, my system is searching for online resources relevant to what I typed. That said, 99% of the time I type into the dash, I am doing so to retrieve a local file or application. So roughly translated, 99% of the time Unity is bringing me irrelevant search results that ultimately slow down my computer in an obviously noticeable fashion when typing in search terms.

Who on earth thought this was a good decision? I can see the value in an online resource like this, but being opt-out is ridiculous. It being in the home lens is even more ridiculous. Why would you split up lenses for music, videos, files, applications, but NOT online resources? I just can't fathom this.

Given the fact I often have to order parts for different things at work through Amazon, I would love to support Canonical by going through the lens facet, but not at the expense of my privacy. I repeat, not at the expense of my privacy.

Canonical, you have done so much good for the Linux community. You deserve to be commended 100x over again for your work. You've taken some insane chances along the way. Unity has evolved into a beautiful, clean, and professional desktop environment. It was met with criticism but it has blossomed into something that's really quite nice. Mir has yet to be seen so I can't really comment there quite yet. Then you have this shopping lens being an opt-out feature. I honestly don't understand how someone sat at the meeting table and thought "this is a good idea." This is distribution suicide. You're losing a magnitude of users over this stupid nonsense little thing. Is this really worth all of the negative publicity Ubuntu/Canonical is *still* receiving (and forever will) over this? I mean, really? Is it?

Michel-Ekimia (michel.ekimia) wrote :

SO , we are heading for 16.04 and the next summit is next week.

Can we maybe discuss this in the summit so this amazon integration does not make user hate Ubuntu anymore ?

Adolfo Jayme (fitojb) wrote :

Online search results have been disabled by default in Unity 7, starting from 16.04 LTS.

Changed in unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu):
status: Triaged → Fix Released
Changed in unity-lens-shopping:
status: New → Fix Released
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