Ubuntu

Please make the shopping results in the Unity dash opt-in

Reported by Constance C on 2012-10-23
134
This bug affects 27 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu)
Undecided
Unassigned

Bug Description

It seems the humor of my last bug report was lost on some so here is a serious report.

In 12.10, a semi-hidden legal notice tells us that by using the dash, unless we have opted out, we agree to allow Ubuntu to collect our keystrokes, and send them along with our IP address for storage by Canonical and selected parties including Facebook, Twitter, BBC and Amazon. The only cue to alert the user to this fact are the words "Legal Notice" written in small text at the bottom-right corner of a window frame. The agreement, according to Canonical, applies even if the user has not read the notice.

I believe a great many people, especially those who have chosen to use free software, would not wish to use software that violates their privacy in this way. Those people can opt out, IF they notice the little "Legal Notice" down the bottom AND click on it to find out what is about to be done to their privacy, and what they must do to avoid it. Many people would not notice the text, or would not click to read it even if they did notice it. After all, they are using free software, and supposedly, free software respects the freedoms of its users, so it would be lax but not unreasonable for a user to believe they don't need to be on the alert, ever-vigilant and looking for ways in which free software might violate our freedoms.

A software package that respected the freedoms of users would not operate this "feature" on an opt-out basis, would not make the notice overly obscure, and would not claim that simply using the dash without even reading the notice constitutes agreement to be spied upon by third parties.

A software package that respected its users, yet wanted to provide this "feature", would work the following way. The first time dash is opened, a large modal dialogue box would appear with a prominent warning message. The user would be explicitly asked whether they consent for all of their dash search terms to be sent along with their IP address to Canonical, Facebook, Twitter, BBC and Amazon. They would have to answer yes or no before they could use the software. The dialog would have an optional checkbox to make this preference persistent.

Having an opt-out system which will trick many users into allowing their privacy to be violated against their wishes does not respect the freedom of choice or privacy of users. It is not compatible the Ubuntu Code of Conduct, which states that "we expect members of the Ubuntu community to be respectful when dealing with ... users of Ubuntu." It is not possible for community members to support the implementation of the privacy settings in this way. Distributing 12.10 and promoting its use is not respectful of the users of this software, many of whom will be tricked into allowing their privacy to be violated against their wishes.

Constance C (russell2pi) on 2012-10-23
description: updated
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

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

Changed in dash (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Marius B. Kotsbak (mariusko) wrote :

Your IP address in sent only to Canonical (through a proxy), so please update the description accordingly.

Constance C (russell2pi) wrote :

The Legal Note says "... you consent to... the storage of your search terms AND IP address by Canonical AND such selected third parties." (emphasis added)

That is what users are tricked into consenting to.

tags: added: privacy
affects: dash (Ubuntu) → unity-lens-shopping (Ubuntu)
summary: - Opt-out for dash privacy violates Code of Conduct
+ Please make the shopping results in the Unity dash opt-in

I've updated the bug title to make it easier to understand what it is about. I know that ideologically it has a very different meaning, however dealing with hundreds bugs is not easy and having a clear subject is something that really, really helps. So, we can say that it's just of a "technical need" that I've modified the subject, and I hope this won't hurt anybody. :-)

description: updated
Fred (eldmannen+launchpad) wrote :

Here are two workarounds:

# Disable remote searches (Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, BBC, etc) from Unity dash
gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses remote-content-search 'none'
(Can also be done from "System Settings" -> Privacy and toggle "Include search results" to off.

# Uninstall the shopping lens
sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

# Many may also wish to remove the music store shopping lens
sudo apt-get remove unity-scope-musicstores

The problem is with the intrusive defaults which aims to cash in on the
naive users ignoring/not understanding/ missing to disable it.

William Paul (junktext-0) wrote :

I generally like Ubuntu and am actively using 13.10, but I am not as excited to promote others in using Ubuntu until the online Dash search feature is made opt-in (as I do care about my privacy so I have already turned off this capability). I know of many Linux enthusiasts who have switched to another distro simply due to this opt-out policy (and will likely never come back to Ubuntu), while many others like them are not hard to find on IRC or elsewhere. So, this has to be counter-productive with Canonical's goals to continue to build their community (and raise more money).

If Canonical needs money that badly, why do they not advertise their merchandise section better? They have nice t-shirts, pens, and the like, which I have bought in the past. This would provide not only money but also much needed word-of-mouth brand advertising by the people who use Ubuntu.

The current opt-out policy has the scent of Microsoft. So, I laughed in mild agreement when Mark Shuttleworth won the Big Brother Award (http://news.slashdot.org/story/13/10/28/2210220/) and also when RMS called Ubuntu "Spyware".

Please Canonical, I do not mind having the capability of my Dash to search online sources, but please ask your users first!

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