Jono Bacon blogged yesterday in a response to Richard Stallman’s recent post on the Free Software Foundation’s website in which Stallman suggested Ubuntu has spyware. I do not personally think that Ubuntu has spyware (I think calling it spyware is a stretch) but I do think the shopping lens poses security and privacy concerns which Canonical appears to be ignoring.
I’m a bit flabbergasted by Jono’s response to Stallman since it didn’t seem to defend at all against Stallman’s claims. It was like Jono was trying to claim Stallman was utterly wrong without providing even the smallest bit of evidence to his readers and Ubuntu Users.
The post became popular and over one hundred comments had been posted within hours. Most readers who commented claiming to be Ubuntu Users totally disagreed with Jono’s post and stated they felt the feature was either totally negative or implemented in a poor way.
One thing that has concerned me since this feature came out, is the repeated posts and statements from Canonical employees who seek to reassure Ubuntu Users that privacy is a key value to Canonical. However, when the EFF, an Ubuntu Developer and former Canonical employee, and heck, even myself point out privacy and security issues with the feature, the only thing we get is ignored or told we are spreading FUD.
Now, I still think the Unity Shopping Lens can be a valuable feature to users. However, until it becomes opt-in and the ability to switch it off occurs, well it’s not very valuable and seems like more of a liability to users and the community.
Let’s be clear that Ubuntu is the only Linux Distro that currently does anything like this. Personally, I do not know of any proprietary operating systems that do anything like this without it being opt-in or at the very least giving users significant warning of the feature.
“As a leader… I have always endeavored to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a con-sensus of what I heard in the discussion. I always remember the axiom: a leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” – Nelson Mandela