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EFF Wants Ubuntu To Disable Online Search By Default 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-works-vs.-just-works-correctly dept.
sfcrazy writes "Ubuntu 12.10 met with some controversy before and after its launch about the inclusion of Amazon product listings alongside local search results. Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has raised concerns around data leaks and Amazon Ads. The EFF has asked Canonical to update Ubuntu so it disables 'Include online search results' by default. 'Users should be able to install Ubuntu and immediately start using it without having to worry about leaking search queries or sending potentially private information to third party companies. Since many users might find this feature useful, consider displaying a dialog the first time a user logs in that asks if they would like to opt-in.'"
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EFF Wants Ubuntu To Disable Online Search By Default

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  • Good Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @04:26PM (#41823669)
    Providing users with a clear, easy to change choice up front ought to be the new standard. Maybe some users will want to see sponsored search results (advertising) when they search for photos they took on their vacation to Scotland. Others may prefer to just see the photos they are looking for. Either way, letting the user choose and being honest about what they are choosing, rather than simply having sponsored results appear in a local search, is a much better user experience.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RanCossack (1138431)
      I'm not sure of the exact term for it, but your example assumes the user is looking for photos of Scotland that they took and have stored on their local drive. What if they want to search for Scotland on the internet? Maybe someone else said something about Scotland, so they type in "Scotland" to look it up on Wikipedia, or to see image results for Scotland from Google. Or, more relevant to the shopping lens, maybe they typed in "kilts" because they want to buy one, not search for pictures of kilts on their
      • Re:Good Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @05:11PM (#41824337)
        Nobody protests Amazon being included in the search bar in Firefox because nobody uses Firefox to search for local data. Local and remote searching should have a good clear line between them. It should take an active effort on the users part to merge them.
        • by Noughmad (1044096)

          Nobody protests Amazon being included in the search bar in Firefox because nobody uses Firefox to search for local data. Local and remote searching should have a good clear line between them. It should take an active effort on the users part to merge them.

          Is there any reason for this except "this is how we've always done it"?

          • Re:Good Advice (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @06:25PM (#41825173)
            Of course there is. Having everything you search on submitted to every external site that you do business with is bad. Whether you are looking for local files concerning your birthday, the erotic letter your wife wrote you, or that letter you wrote to the GBLT suicide hotline, it is none of Amazon's business. Ubuntu tapping your searches for Amazon is not significantly different than if ATT tapped your phone line for Amazon.
            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              Question: If Canonical announced tomorrow "We are going broke, either we have the Amazon search or we close our doors" which would you choose? Frankly most of the improvements on usability on the desktop can be traced back to Canonical and like it or not if they go under there is nobody lining up to take their place.All the major corps are spending their budgets on SERVER improvements and frankly couldn't give a rat's ass about the desktop...after all their locked down Windows desktops work just fine for th

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                If Canonical announced tomorrow "We are going broke, either we have the Amazon search or we close our doors" which would you choose?

                Buh-bye, Canonical. I will slightly miss your driver integration.

                Frankly most of the improvements on usability on the desktop can be traced back to Canonical

                Citation needed. There was a working desktop before they were around, and the only thing I have now that I didn't have before them is more eye candy, at the expense of functionality like expecting my computer to run OpenGL programs correctly.

              • by mcgrew (92797) *

                Question: If Canonical announced tomorrow "We are going broke, either we have the Amazon search or we close our doors" which would you choose?

                Close the fucking doors! Canonical isn't the only one providing distros.

                Frankly most of the improvements on usability on the desktop can be traced back to Canonical

                Such as? Unity? haven't tried it but I heard it sucked. Gnome improvements? I never liked Gnome. I'm running kubuntu, but if Canonical wnt out of business I'd just switch back to Mandriva. So what useabilit

                • by hairyfeet (841228)

                  Yeah Bob writes a feature, that fucks up previous releases, breaks shit left and right, and when you point this out? You'll get told "fix it yourself".

                  There is a REASON why the ONLY time Linux gained shit was when Google just took the whole damned thing away from the devs, because it is like herding a bunch of cats. Hell look at the bullshit they've pulled the past 5 years, the fucking trainwreck that is Pulse, and of course the bizarro devs of the DEs "Quick, things am stable and people am happy, this not

                  • by mcgrew (92797) *

                    Yeah Bob writes a feature, that fucks up previous releases, breaks shit left and right, and when you point this out? You'll get told "fix it yourself".

                    You submit a bug report and reinstall the previous version. Simple. A housecat could do it.

                    There is a REASON why the ONLY time Linux gained shit was when Google just took the whole damned thing away from the devs

                    If by "shit" you mean "market share," that's one of the biggest reasons why Linux isn't going to dominate the desktop. People not onlty don't know th

                    • by hairyfeet (841228)

                      If by "superior" you mean BROKEN then we are in agreement. Please enjoy this list of show stopping bugs [narod.ru] and then compare it to the same list from THREE YEARS AGO [narod.ru]... notice how many are still on there? And your own "fix it" does NOT work, as the previous version requires kernel foo 3.2 and the distros are now on bar 4.2...thanks again to the totally fucked up way Linus and the devs tied every damned thing to the kernel...great job guys.

                      Meanwhile the rest of us can run brand new and decade old software, hel

                    • by mcgrew (92797) *

                      Please enjoy this list of show stopping bugs

                      You cannot access the following Web address:
                      http://linuxfonts.narod.ru/why.linux.is.not.ready.for.the.desktop.current.html [narod.ru]

                      The site you requested is blocked under the following categories: Personal Pages

                      Firewalled off here, but if all you can link to is a personal page, your argument is pretty damned weak. I'll have a look at it when I get home, but I've run across no "show stoppers".

                      Meanwhile the rest of us can run brand new and decade old software, hell you ca

                    • by hairyfeet (841228)

                      Its not a personal page, its simply a list, with links, to truly show stopping bugs, bugs that go back YEARS and have not been fixed.

                      But if you want to ignore evidence go right ahead, it won't be any different than how the OEMs and pretty much everyone else ignores Linux. Its been free for 20+ years, yet you see its numbers going nowhere, and no Android is NOT Linux because if you are gonna count that then you might as well say that Apple is a FOSS OS since it uses a BSD kernel. Google controls Android, you

                    • by mcgrew (92797) *

                      From your G+ link: " The typical update latency for an app is weeks for security fixes (sometimes months) and months (sometimes years) for major features."

                      Yet doesn't list a single one. The he goes on to say "What did the (mostly closed source) competition do? It went into the exact opposite direction"

                      WTF? This is a fairy tale. The guy is either an apple fanboy or an MS shill. Don' tbelieve everything you read!

                      The other link is almost as bad. "The kernel cannot recover from video, sound and network drivers'

                • Bob, my friend, why do you never think anybody should pay a nickle for anything? We can't all code as well as you!
              • by jgrahn (181062)

                Question: If Canonical announced tomorrow "We are going broke, either we have the Amazon search or we close our doors" which would you choose? Frankly most of the improvements on usability on the desktop can be traced back to Canonical and like it or not if they go under there is nobody lining up to take their place.

                IMO the Unix "desktop" was good enough for average users in 1992 or so, so I'd choose a world without Canonical. I don't quite understand what these usability features *are*, anyway. I have to use Windows at work, and see nothing remarkably usable there. Keymap switching is nice, but everything else is comparable with my plain X11 desktop.

                Of course, now someone will name me "part of the problem", mutter things about "the year of the Linux desktop" and so on ...

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Is there any reason for this except "this is how we've always done it"?

            I'm surprised you even need to ask this. You seem really out of touch.

            Online searches leak private information. Online search inclusion drastically lowers the quality of local searches in large part because online searches are polluted with "shopping information" and local searches are never about shopping. Online searches are usually slower than local searches, Online searches can cause huge delays if the machine is off-line. Online

            • by Rockoon (1252108)

              Online searches are usually slower than local searches

              Are you kidding me?

              With an online search, there are servers waiting to perform my search and are optimized to do it. Google throws me 10 results in well under a second.
              My local machine is not optimized to do searches of local content, nor do I want it to dedicate the kind of RAM it takes to do fast local searches. My local machine takes longer than a Google search just to get a a set of uncached icons onto the screen because its got to hit the platter.

          • Is there any reason for this except "this is how we've always done it"?

            Yes. Privacy!

    • Re:Good Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mounthood (993037) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @05:19PM (#41824455)

      If Canonical had asked "Support Ubuntu by including Amazon searches?" they could have kept the money and the goodwill.

      • by pswPhD (1528411)

        I think the problem for Canonical would be that Amazon would pay them more money for "default on" local ad searches, and they do need money for paying (at least some) developers, and for servers and other stuff.

        I'll be honest here and say I don't see a problem with it- it is open source and can be easily removed, unlike apps on some mobile operating systems added by the telecoms companies.
        Ultimately the money must come from somewhere. For Suse (my main OS) and redhat it mainly comes from server side support

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      That won't happen because of one single fact...Canonical needs the money. I mean look at their track record since Shuttleworth said he wouldn't sink more money into Canonical, its been a desperate throwing ideas at the wall hoping to find a way to keep the company afloat. Ubuntu Netbook Edition, Ubuntu Server (remember when Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu "was gonna be for desktops and not servers"? Boy that tune changed quick) Ubuntu selling MP3s through Amazon and now Amazon search.

      But I predict Canonical

    • I completely agree with the EFF, but I hope they're not suggesting a modal dialog. Modal dialogs get in the way. Give us a way to turn on internet search one time only, or give us a way to turn it on by default, but (aside from placing it in the control panel) ask us about that particular setting when we've just made an unsuccessful query.

  • Windows 8 (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Windows 8 interface formerly known as Metro is leaking local searches like a mofo also.
    Why should every thing i search locally be shared with the maker of every service and app I subscribe to?
    It's batshit insane IMO but at this stage to be expected from the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Google, but Ubuntu?!?!?!!!!!!

    Me: "makes me sick motherfucker, how far we done fell"
    Shuttleworth: *ahhhhhhhauccccccccccck *Phlew!

    http://youtu.be/1wmgghlEagA?t=3m36s

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It does? You must be using a different version of Windows 8 than I am because my version only searches the currently selected app in the sidebar. I wish it had a smarter search feature.

    • by KreAture (105311)
      They have lost their virginity.

      Now expect them to become slutty overnight.

  • This is how it should have been in the first place. As a user of Ubuntu when I do decide to install 12.10 I would like to be greeted with the option to opt-in rather than having the ability to "opt-out" by changing settings after the install. Personally, I will opt-in just to be able to support Ubuntu in even the smallest way.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Everybody wants Ubuntu to disable online search.
  • Useless (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @04:30PM (#41823737)

    Every time I search for "tentacle rape furry herm hentai" I get zero results from Amazon anyway.

  • Someone has to pay (Score:3, Informative)

    by bjourne (1034822) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @04:42PM (#41823937) Homepage Journal
    Developing a Linux distro isn't cheap. Even if they are mostly just assembling free software components, it still costs money to create a reasonably polished user experience. Canonical seem like a decent enough company and have sponsored lots of conferences for example. Back in the day you could request install cd:s from them which they sent you free of charge so that you could give to friends and family. So why not be nice back and let them have some small Amazon affiliate income? If that's what it takes to keep Ubuntu running, it's fine by me.
    • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @05:02PM (#41824233)

      So why not be nice back and let them have some small Amazon affiliate income? If that's what it takes to keep Ubuntu running, it's fine by me.

      I totally agree.

      Also Maintaining bash is a lot of work, if sending all ur commands to a small Amazon affiliate is what it takes to keep bash up to date, its fine by me.

    • I completely disagree. It's not the users' concern where Canonical gets their money. If they offer their distro for free, it is their own problem how they get their funding. If users don't like their product, there are many, many other free distros to choose from.

      Besides, they were doing just fine on their previous funding models, which is what other companies like Red Hat do, right? Why do they need more money? Is the support license money well running dry these days? And if that is the case, whose
    • Is the EEF jumping on every other manufacture who SELL Windows with similar crapware?
      With a free OS it's not so much to for them to ask for some ad revenue, which can be turned off.

  • How about (and I know I'm getting really abstract here, try to stay with me), just a thought... How about you fucking ask us on installation, instead of everyone (and I mean EVERY-FUCKING-ONE, EFF included) acting like we're too gorram stupid to make that decision for ourselves?

    Yea, I know - what a far-fetched concept, huh?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      OMG that's so innovative. Did you think up that bright idea yourself, or maybe WAS IT IN THE FUCKING SUMMARY?

    • by theripper (123078)

      ...Since many users might find this feature useful, consider displaying a dialog the first time a user logs in that asks if they would like to opt-in.'

      How is this different than the suggestion in the summary to default to no and ask the first time you log in?

      • ...Since many users might find this feature useful, consider displaying a dialog the first time a user logs in that asks if they would like to opt-in.'

        How is this different than the suggestion in the summary to default to no and ask the first time you log in?

        It's different in that first login comes after the installation process.

        Not that it's a bad idea - I must've missed that sentence when skimming the summary... rant partially retracted.

        • by theripper (123078)

          I wasn't trying to ask for the literal difference...

          That said, I prefer the idea of defaulting things like this to something sane and asking you on login if you want to opt-in versus putting more options in the installation process.

  • EFF's suggestions (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @04:58PM (#41824183)

    What EFF Wants From Ubuntu

    Ubuntu is the third most popular desktop operating system, and it's the most popular free software one. Many of EFF's employees run Ubuntu on their own computers. Here is what we would like to see from future versions of Ubuntu.

            Disable "Include online search results" by default. Users should be able to install Ubuntu and immediately start using it without having to worry about leaking search queries or sending potentially private information to third party companies. Since many users might find this feature useful, consider displaying a dialog the first time a user logs in that asks if they would like to opt-in.

            Explain in detail what you do with search queries and IP addresses, how long you store them, and in what circumstances you give them to third parties.

            Make the Search Results tab of the Privacy settings let users toggle on and off specific online search results. Some users might want Amazon products in their search results, but never anything from Facebook.

            We love that Ubuntu is bold enough to break new ground and compete directly with the large proprietary operating systems, but please make sure that you respect your users' privacy and security while you're doing it. Windows and Mac users are used to having their data sent to third parties without their express consent by software companies that are trying to maximize profits for their shareholders. Let's make sure Ubuntu, like the GNU/Linux operating system at its heart, remains an exception to this.

    Really if Ubuntu had implemented these suggestions to begin with, they could have avoided this controversy.

    • by mattr (78516)

      As a Mac user I can't say I'm used to that. I monitor all firewall requests from my machine. What I can't stand is not knowing what it means to allow Flash or MS Word to autoupdate.

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      Ubuntu is popular, people would find some way to bitch about it regardless.

  • could put so much evil in their OS!

  • by ChicoLance (318143) <lance@orner.net> on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @06:16PM (#41825093)

    Yes, this inclusion into the Dash has gone a bit to far.

    I upgraded a machine over the weekend to 12.10, and after a couple of installs of my various packages I like, I went to Unity Dash to search for "Eclipse" to see if I'd already installed the Java IDE or not.

    Instead of simply saying "no", it instead gave me returns for all sorts of Twilight movies and books. Amazon probably has it on my wish list already.

    I'll search Amazon when I want to search Amazon. When Dash is now the way to launch programs on my box instead of menus, I want it to launch programs.

        --Lance

    • by zigfreed (1441541)
      This is my experience with dash in 12.10 as well. By default it crams as much useless information in as possible. It posts magazines from the Ubuntu software center before it posts the programs those magazines reference.

      I don't mind it searching Amazon, however posting Amazon searches in full view unless entirely disabled is moronic.
    • by luther349 (645380)
      try the new builds of enlightenment it pretty much has the best of everything without messing it up or eating up the entire system.
  • Welcome to Ubuntu: An experimental and totally free Neuro-Marketing Neo-Linux Neon Skinner-Box that rivals DARPA while remaining cute enough for children -- and irresistible to moths.
    With (N)eubuntu, anyone can contribute to open-source.
    Install now to begin clicking bubbles and sharing your information with other interesting entities right away!
    Once you have the (N)eubuntu Experience©, you'll wonder why the hell you ever considered Linux!
  • Accepting a small chunk of money from Amazon in exchange for promotion (big, shiny, opt-in dialogue with a "remind me later" option) will keep the respect and support of quite a lot of the community.

    Accepting a large chunk of money to allow Amazon to effectively spy on the majority of users (desktop search queries sent to Amazon by default) is outright despicable and will many to actively disrecommend Ubuntu.

  • Actually I wonder how much Mark Shuttleworth would get if he sold Ubuntu to Amazon. And I wonder if he is wondering the same thing.

  • by MadMaverick9 (1470565) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @10:09PM (#41826785)

    Some ubuntu users feel that this amazon search functionality should be expanded to other applications as well. For example grep search results should include amazon search results.

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-terminal/+bug/1055766 [launchpad.net]

    • by xded (1046894)
      Interesting? I feel as if several mods are suddenly hearing a wooshing sound in terror...

      Dear "root owning" overlords,
      When using grep recursively I only get local results:
      [...]
      I declare this a bug for two reasons:
      1. The output is boring.
      2. The terminal has more than 2 lines!!! It's an unefficient use of my screenspace.
      I believe the reason for this is that the grep command only searches locally for things I am actually looking for, I kind of expect the results I get from my codebase and as such it removes any sense of mystery or something new and exciting to spice up my dull geek existence. That's boring, grep -R should also search amazon, so I get more exciting results such as:
      Shark Season 1 Starring Steven Eckholdt, Nora Dunn, Patrick Fabian, et al. Amazon Instant Video to buy episodes: $1.99 to buy season: $34.99 ($1.59 per episode)
      [...]
      Please can you change the grep warez to have this feature, and just install it on my machine while I'm down the pub, after all you do "erm, have root", so it should be easy for you to do :-)
      [...]
      Sent from my Unity device, (which is why it took several glacial ages and a couple of eras to get it done)

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @06:34AM (#41828615)
    In about 3 or 4 years, Mint will eclipse Ubuntu mainly due to OSX me-too shenanigans like this. Move now; I'd recommend LMDE.
  • when linux distros had very restrictive defaults.
    Installed firefox on windows? Cookies allowed, no warning, everything open to tracking but for easy use, too.
    Installed firefox on debian? First form you fill, you are asked "do you really want to submit data over unsecured connection?". Cookies? the default was "ask". Other insecure functions? often turned off, so using insecure functionality was opt-in.

  • Apparently the EFF wants you to open your wifi to everyone and anyone because it will promote privacy (how, they never explain), but when a free operating system enables searching the internet by default, apparently that's a no no because it might leach personal information.

    Way to be a hypocrite EFF.

  • Opera has a similar nasty bug... If you middle-click almost anywhere within the browser window, it likes to take the last bit of text you highlighted with your mouse and send it to Google. It's wonderful when you're simply trying to middle-click a link to open it in a new tab, but you're off by a pixel and so instead Opera sends some secret text you didn't want anyone else to see to Google so that it can store it forever in its database of every search query ever submitted.

    • Excuse me - but you need to learn how to configure and setup your web browser.

      I have set DuckDuckGo as my default search engine in Opera.

      If you don't already have DDG (quite unlikely, but who knowsâ¦), it's even easier, actually: go to DuckDuckGo, right click on their search box (not the Opera search box, the DDG website search box) and click Create Search. Enter d for keyword (you can choose any, but that's the way DDG suggests, and that's how it is on my default Opera installation), and check use as default search engine.

      http://my.opera.com/Tamil/blog/default-search-engine [opera.com]

      • My problem isn't that it's Google, but that it's anything at all. (And I already use DuckDuckGo, BTW.)

        Pasting into the browser window isn't a good enough reason to send that data over the internet. If I paste it into the URL bar, then perhaps parse it as a URL. If I paste it into the search bar, then send it as a search query. However, Opera goes so far as to take data pasted anywhere where it otherwise wouldn't do something else, and send it to Google as a search query. I sent them a bug report about

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

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