Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Ubuntu Government Your Rights Online

Stallman On Unity Dash: Canonical Will Have To Give Users' Data To Governments 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the sounds-like-something-he'd-say dept.
Giorgio Maone writes "Ubuntu developer and fellow Mozillian Benjamin Kerensa chatted with various people about the new Amazon Product Results in the Ubuntu 12.10 Unity Dash. Among them, Richard Stallman told him that this feature is bad because: 1. 'If Canonical gets this data, it will be forced to hand it over to various governments.'; 2. Amazon is bad. Concerned people can disable remote data retrieval for any lens and scopes or, more surgically, use sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Stallman On Unity Dash: Canonical Will Have To Give Users' Data To Governments

Comments Filter:
  • sad but true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @01:44PM (#41642601)

    if a company collects any data on you it's inevitable the government will try and take it.

    • Re:sad but true (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aaron552 (1621603) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @01:48PM (#41642625) Homepage

      If anyone collects data on you it's inevitable the government will try and take it

      Fixed

    • Re:sad but true (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:29PM (#41642919) Homepage

      They dont have to take it. It's available for dirt cheap at LexisNexis. I can buy enough data on you to freak you out. All I need is a name and an address and I can get your social Security number and pretty much everything else.

      This is what most nutjobs don't understand. Stop worrying about the government, because corporations are already harvesting you and selling it to the government at a deep discount.

      • Re:sad but true (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:36PM (#41642957)

        That's why it's more important to give them false information 25% of the time than it is to worry about who or what is tracking you.

        Poison the well.

        • by http (589131)

          Do you really think they haven't figured out that a certain percentage of the db entries will be inaccurate? Inter-database correlations are powerful - e.g. there is a strong chance that this person nicknamed "Adolf Hitler" with a known birthday and an invalid address (and a 95% certain GeoIP) who wrote an online review of "Predator" is the same person as someone with the same birthday and ordered "Predator 2" a week later, and, oh look, the shipping address is close to the GeoIP area. That the errors are

          • Who the hell gives out their real birthdate and real zip code to sites?

            IP addess - now that's something else entirely.

            I have been born in years ranging from 1898 to 1989, according to what I tell any software or website.

            Hell, I even have those grocery store discount cards they track you with, but I have no idea what names and addresses I filled out on the forms.

            • People that want their parcels to actually make it to their homes, because they ordered stuff. People that don't take the trouble to erase all cookies, log out of facebook and whatnot before they start messing up reviews with fake entries. There are so much things identifying you online that once they have your real data, they'll follow you regardless of the amount of bogus you fill in, unless you simply don't order online and don't do any social networking, use search engines and such.
      • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:47PM (#41643019)

        "Stop worrying about the government, because corporations are already harvesting you and selling it to the government at a deep discount."

        But, but I TRUST the Koch Brothers when they say Government Is Bad.

        The Invisible Hand Of The Market will protect me.

      • Re:sad but true (Score:4, Interesting)

        by BeanThere (28381) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:11PM (#41643713)

        Stop worrying about the government, because corporations are already harvesting

        Bad governments have killed hundreds of millions in the last 100 years alone ... I think I'd prefer to base what I worry most about on actual evidence, thanks.

  • Don't use Ubuntu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @01:50PM (#41642641)

    Even if you can uninstall this feature, by merely using Ubuntu you're implicitly supporting them, and their intentions obviously aren't very nice if they're doing it. Use a different distro, there are also many other issues with Ubuntu to keep using it anyway.

    • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @01:53PM (#41642673)

      I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well, are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are your Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, Me too! Are your Episcopalian or Baptist? He said, "Baptist!" I said, "Wow! Me too! Are your Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord? He said, Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are your Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.

      Welcome to the world of Linux distributions. Who can figure out the mystery of the sub 2 percent combined desktop market share?

    • by Qwavel (733416) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:04PM (#41642751)

      "their intentions obviously aren't very nice if they're doing it"

      Based on what we know of them so far, I'd say that they are just trying to figure out a way to make some money, not be evil.

      Personally, I hope they are successful in making money, and if there users feel that this latest initiative is the wrong approach then I hope they will respond in a constructive manner and not abandon Ubuntu.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sanest thing I've heard all week. Thank you.

      • Re:Don't use Ubuntu (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:30PM (#41642931)

        I think the "ask for it" approach they're trying is a much less evil approach, and would probably pay off more in the long run, both in dollars and good will.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        Ubuntu doesn't need users, it needs money. It could exist in a vacuum if the bills are paid.

        This being Slashdot, why give a fuck about "training wheels" distros?

        • Because we install it on relatives computers and they need training wheels. Because it has all of the proprietary drivers built in so we don't have to hunt them down.

    • Re:Don't use Ubuntu (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:58PM (#41643129) Homepage
      With the addition of this feature Ubuntu was crossed off my list. Until now it was Ubuntu for desktops and CentOS for servers. Now it it Mint for desktops and still CentOS for servers. Wow that was hard. Mint is prettier anyway.

      Again some MBA was let loose with his spreadsheet. He crunched some numbers and everybody when woooooo. There are all kinds of bad things that look good when put on a spreadsheet. A really nice bold bottom line doesn't make them less bad; it just makes making a bad decision seem better.
      • Re:Don't use Ubuntu (Score:5, Informative)

        by s4m7 (519684) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @06:24PM (#41644785) Homepage
        Mint makes money through their default search engine redirect, or in other words, by selling your keyword searches. Which is exactly what Ubuntu is doing. They've just been doing it for longer.
        • I initially defended this Unity Dash adware with the same comparison, but after reading more about it, the Mint advertising is nowhere near as bad. All LOCAL searches are transmitted UNENCRYPTED back to Canonical! If users aren't aware of this new "addition", they will be leaking potentially private local information all over the net - I'm surprised this is even legal (it probably isn't in the EU). There is also no filtering done on pictures of suggestions returned from Amazon, so even pornographic images c
    • They are trying to make money supplying linux to private users.

  • by Fastolfe (1470) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @01:54PM (#41642677)

    This shouldn't be surprising. If someone is in a position to collect data, and they do so, governments can get that data. Pretty much everyone collects data when you interact with their services. To paraphrase Eric Schmidt, If you don't want anyone to know what you're doing online, don't do things online.

    • by Captain Hook (923766) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:00PM (#41642715)

      If you don't want anyone to know what you're doing online, don't do things online.

      Some how I think you've missed the point.

      • by Mabhatter (126906)

        No, not really... If you use ANY mainstream ISP they are already logging your requests for marketing purposes... Just not specifically about "you". That was the deal with DNS being hijacked... It's not like they don't still do it. The guy that owns your "wire" has 100% of the info you send.

      • by Fastolfe (1470)

        Would you care to enlighten me?

        • The shopping lens will pass every search string you make using the default search box onto canoncial who will then pass it on to amazon (supposedly anomymized) or whoever else they decide they want to in the future.

          I.e. if you search for something on your local computer, using your local machine to do the search, you would normally expect that search to remain local, but you now have to take extra steps to ensure that an offline search remains offline.

          The point I suggested you missed is that line betwee
    • Why do you quote that two faced asshole Schmidt? What he actually believes is that this only applies to the little people, ie you. If you try to publish data about _his_ life for all to see, like some journalists from CNET did in 2005, he'll try to punish you for it, and all those connected with you. Look it up.

      The truth is that everybody likes privacy, but shits like Schmidt will say anything to convince people to give up their rights so that they can be exploited. Don't drink the cool-aid.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @01:55PM (#41642683)
    Then install debian.
    • by kthreadd (1558445) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:17PM (#41642839)

      Then install debian.

      Stallman's organization maintains a list of approved distributions [gnu.org].
      Debian is not there, so he won't recommend it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I believe the FSF uses Debian as well. Debian is 'libre' by default even the kernel nowadays. Stallman won't recommend it because it has non-free repos. But they're disabled by default. Debian is perfectly fine if you don't enable those repositories.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by maxwell demon (590494)

        Here's what the FSF has to say about Debian:

        Debian's Social Contract states the goal of making Debian entirely free software, and Debian conscientiously keeps nonfree software out of the official Debian system. However, Debian also provides a repository of nonfree software. According to the project, this software is “not part of the Debian system,” but the repository is hosted on many of the project's main servers, and people can readily learn about these nonfree packages by browsing Debian's online package database.

        So with Debian, the people can learn that there is non-free software! Oh the horrors!

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Which is exactly what rubs me the wrong way with RMS, he doesn't want coexistence or choice. In his ideal world there is nothing but free software and you will use it because using anything else is "unethical". I much prefer the people who strive for OSS software to win on its own merits - functionality, quality, cost etc. because it's the superior solution and not just by ideology. One sounds more like a religion "Thou shalt not have any other software but Free" and the other more like a self-help communit

        • by unixisc (2429386)
          The virginity of software - unplugged!
      • Then install debian.

        Stallman's organization maintains a list of approved distributions [gnu.org].

        Debian is not there, so he won't recommend it.

        Because Debian lists repositories where you can install non-free stuff, he rejects it. I guess Stallman uses windows to watch YouTube stuf. Ditto for Fedora, (ATI and Nvidia and Flash are non open and can be installed, and therefore the distribution is rejected). Sigh, I don't want to live in a sealed box

  • Mission Creep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:16PM (#41642835) Homepage

    Amazon was a member of ALEC. ALEC is the right-wing lobbying group that promotes voter-suppression laws and "shoot first" laws, as well as attacks against wages and working conditions in the US. Amazon quit ALEC after public pressure in May 2012, but I am sure it still seeks the same nasty policies that ALEC advocated and is waiting for a new tool to achieve them.

    Even if we accept Stallman's rather innacurate description of ALEC's activities, neither campaign finance, gun rights, or minimum wage laws have anything to do with the free software movement. Stallman's belief to the contrary, Linux is not his personal political hobby horse.

    • Re:Mission Creep (Score:5, Insightful)

      by leromarinvit (1462031) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:36PM (#41642953)

      So Stallman isn't entitled to have an opinion on these subjects? Or is he just not allowed to voice it, whether asked or not? This is his personal website you're talking about.

      Tell me, what qualifies you to say that campaign finance, gun rights, and minimum wage laws are none of Stallman's business?

      • by bonehead (6382)

        Or is he just not allowed to voice it

        Oh, he's allowed. It's just that his causes would be better served by not having his nutjob name attached to them.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        If you want to politicize Linux and Open Source Software, go right ahead. But there are many downsides to it that shouldn't be involved with software or open source. If we get a right wing government anywhere in the world, should they automatically ignore the concerns of OSS because it is seen as a front group for left wing nutters?

        As for qualifications, I would suggest the same thing qualifies him to speak out against stallman entangling political views with OSS as does qualify you to speak out against him

        • If you want to politicize Linux and Open Source Software, go right ahead.

          Stallman doesn't care as much about Open Source as he does about Free Software. The differences can sometimes seem small, but I think the latter is inherently political, as is "hacker culture" in general.

          If we get a right wing government anywhere in the world, should they automatically ignore the concerns of OSS because it is seen as a front group for left wing nutters?

          As a "left wing nutter", I wouldn't have too much hope of a right wing government doing much of anything that benefits common (working class) people. I think trying to get them to pass "OSS-friendly" laws would be a futile endeavour.

          As for qualifications, I would suggest the same thing qualifies him to speak out against stallman entangling political views with OSS as does qualify you to speak out against him for doing it. Stallman is not on some pedestal that make him irreproachable or uniquely off limits to criticism for his comments or stances.

          Of course. But he seemed to suggest that since political topics have (in hi

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            Stallman doesn't care as much about Open Source as he does about Free Software. The differences can sometimes seem small, but I think the latter is inherently political, as is "hacker culture" in general.

            The comments in question have little to do with free software though. Do you think it is appropriate to conflate free software with Gun rights or abortion?

            As a "left wing nutter", I wouldn't have too much hope of a right wing government doing much of anything that benefits common (working class) people. I t

            • So tell me, if Europe decided that software patents were a good thing and some right wing governments wanted to make it law, would the opinion of software enthusiasts and advocates have more impact in this decision or would the opinion of left wing organizations crying about software freedom?

              The European Patent Office has already decided that on its own, by granting thousands of software patents, openly disregarding the law (which says software is unpatentable). If you believe that "neutral" software freedom advocates have any real power to influence governments to act against the interests of capital, you're naive.

              If governments were deciding to change their software, would FOSS be considered when it is seen as a political opposition group? As uncomfortable as it may be for you, the seemingly neutral advocates and enthusiasts would carry more weight in these decisions then groups of political opposition who are also interested in software.

              On this I agree with you. If you only care about the number of Linux installs or some similar metric, appearing neutral will help. But I doubt that's all Stallman is after.

              I took the op's statement to mean more that Stallman should not be conflating FOSS with outside political ideas like Gun control and so on. That has no place in in FOSS in my opinion. But if the "leaders" want to entangle FOSS with politics like that, they better be ready to accept the consequences of being relegated to just another political mouth piece when something important comes up.

              What do yo

              • by sumdumass (711423)

                The European Patent Office has already decided that on its own, by granting thousands of software patents, openly disregarding the law (which says software is unpatentable). If you believe that "neutral" software freedom advocates have any real power to influence governments to act against the interests of capital, you're naive.

                So because one action operated outside of the law, we should give up on trying to influence the law. OK, I get where you are coming from now and understand why you are left wing.

                On t

                • So because one action operated outside of the law, we should give up on trying to influence the law. OK, I get where you are coming from now and understand why you are left wing.

                  I didn't say we should give up. Just that even "neutral" advocates will be ignored as long as their goals don't line up with significant corporate interests. Therefore I don't think appearing neutral should be paramount, I think other ways of trying to influence laws are more effective.

        • by pnot (96038)

          If you want to politicize Linux and Open Source Software, go right ahead.

          If you want to de-politicize Free Software and call it "Open Source", go right ahead. And if you then want to lambast the inventor of Free Software for not following you down the apolitical route... go right ahead, I guess. But don't expect to be taken very seriously.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      He's concerned about individual rights and freedoms. He sees an association between a Linux vendor and a company as a negative in part because of their ties to a PAC that tends to aggresively favor corporations over people.

      On an aside, can you highlight how his description is inaccurate?

    • http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917,0,7937001,full.story [mcall.com]

      read that and then contrast with this from ubuntu.com

      Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning 'humanity to others'.

      You might think with these radically differences this might be a bad fit.

      Maybe it was a few years back, but Ubuntu doesn't seem to even being developed by the same people who made it great. At least there are good alternatives to Ubuntu. Although if Mint doesn't stop with the configuring firefox to expressly not have google as a default search option or make it eas

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:55PM (#41644013)
      Stallman lives by a particular ethical code. Despite the widespread belief that people should separate their ethical beliefs from their work, Stallman does not actually do so, and thus if he believes that Amazon is doing unethical things (which is not really a stretch), he is not going to support the idea of taking his software (which is part of the basis of Ubuntu) and using it to support Amazon financially. I do not see why he should be criticized for that, any more than people should be criticized for refusing to seek employment with companies whose behavior they object to.
      • I think Chick-Fil-A is an unethical company too. Does that mean that open source web browsers should be refuse to resolve URLs pointing to their domain? He is basically arguing that the functionality of Linux should be limited based on what people wish to do with it (in this case buy things from Amazon). That is, in fact, a betrayal of the principles of free software, which apparently now take a back seat to Stallman's other political interests.

        If that's how he feels, than fine, but then it needs to be r

        • At what point did anyone say that browsers should refuse to connect to websites? Stallman is saying that Ubuntu should not be putting advertisements for Amazon on people's desktops as a default. If people want this functionality, they can install it -- it should be opt-in. Ubuntu putting it there is basically an endorsement of Amazon.

          It is not different than saying that we should not be putting Chic-Fil-A advertisements on the Unity desktop, unless people opt-in.
  • by bytesex (112972) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:18PM (#41642841) Homepage

    And use kubuntu instead!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Arker (91948)
      I tried Kubuntu once. It was a lot harder to get installed than slackware, and even after getting it all working I didnt like it as much. Slack has a great clean KDE.
  • by ntropia (939502) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:19PM (#41642857)
    Putting aside any judgements for a moment, one could try to see the desire of Shuttleworth to push Linux in the mainstream, and this could be good... somehow.
    But then, from Shuttleworth's words [markshuttleworth.com]:

    "It makes perfect sense to integrate Amazon search results in the Dash, because the Home Lens of the Dash should let you find *anything* anywhere"

    Seriously? it should "let me find"? You put tons of advertises in user's computers *and* tons of user's data on Amazon servers and you didn't provide it as opt-in feature? And I can't even disable it [until a rushed update came out]?
    Good job! You're alienating the most important thing you gained so far, your users. You know, not only it is important to bring Ubuntu in the mainstream: you need to be sure you don't get there alone, you know?

    It seems another case of "shut up, we know better than users what users really want".
    Do you? [launchpad.net]

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bkerensa (634824)
      Shuttleworth also in that same blog post in the comments said Canonical had a privacy policy covering the lens.... I was the person who made it clear they did not and they just now added a disclaimer which really does not tell us what will happen to the data like a full privacy policy would.
    • Listen to this parasitic fuck's arrogance: "Donâ(TM)t trust us? Erm, we have root. You do trust us with your data already. You trust us not to screw up on your machine with every update."

      No, no I don't. In fact, I don't know anybody who simply trusts Ubuntu's update feature - all the Ubuntu users I know have been burned to a lesser or greater extent on EVERY update.

      Sorry, Shuttleworth, I don't trust you, you don't have root, and I'm not going to fund your private Isle of Man party by allowing you to

  • I consider myself a fairly well-informed geek, and a regular reader of Slashdot.

    And, as the links all appear Slashdotted, I have no fucking clue what the summary talks about. I recognize a lot of the words, the overall tone interested me enough to "look inside", but... What does "Unity Dash" mean, why does it mean giving info to governments, and what does Amazon have to do with turning off lenses and scopes? And what lenses and scopes?

    And yes, I know about Ubuntu's recent whoring itself to Amazon for
    • Its basically saying that Amazon can keep the data they get and it might find its way to Government at some point. **But** most operating systems these days are centralised around package repositories. You install and update from one place so canonical already knew that what you installed, as do debian, mint, etc. Microsoft knows that as well. The information about what you search for is more valuable but you can disable that but then you lose the integrated search with amazon, which might actually be usefu

    • by ais523 (1172701)

      Unity Dash is what Unity (Ubuntu's default window manager) uses as a start menu substitute/replacement: it's basically a set of specialised search engines (one for applications, one for files, one for videos, etc.). They search within your computer, but also into repositories (so you can search for a program you don't have installed and will be given the option to install it. The individual search engines are referred to as lenses and scopes; there's some sort of technical difference that most people don't

  • Thanks /., I've now added `sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping` to my to do list.
  • Does anybody actually use the Unity interface? All I've every heard about it is negative, and it's easily replaced e.g., with Gnome 3. That's part of my standard procedure for installing Ubuntu, since I also find Unity unusable.

    If nobody uses it, there's no need to be concerned about its features.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

Working...