Free Software Foundation says Ubuntu acting as Spyware

Richard Stallman President and Founder of The Free Software Foundation has claimed that Ubuntu is tracking its users and selling its data. Specifically he called Ubuntu Linux a spyware because it collected data about users searches and sent it to Canonical.

Ubuntu uses the information about searches to show the user ads to buy various things from Amazon. By promoting Amazon, Canonical contributes to them. However, the ads are not the core of the problem. The main issue is the spying. Canonical says it does not tell Amazon who searched for what. However, it is just as bad for Canonical to collect your personal information as it would have been for Amazon to collect it, said Stallman in a blog post.

Towards the end of his post, he even goes to the extend of recommending that you remove Ubuntu from the distros you recommend or redistribute.

Jono Bacon, the Community Manager of Ubuntu countered the claim by calling it FUD.

The goal of the dash in Ubuntu has always been to provide a central place in which you can search and find things that are interesting and relevant to you; it is designed to be at the center of your computing experience. Now, this is a big goal, and we are only part-way along the way to achieving it. In the eight year history of Ubuntu and Canonical we have always put privacy forward as a high priority across the many, many different websites, services, and software that forms the Ubuntu platform and community.

In Ubuntu 12.10, searching the Dash, which is the hub for searching for files and applications, also returns results from Amazon Shopping apart from the user’s desktop!

After many users had complained about this, Canonical had to clarify why this was being done.

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. Over time, we’ll make the Dash smarter and smarter, so you can just ask for whatever you want, and it will Just Work, he said…We picked Amazon as a first place to start because most of our users are also regular users of Amazon, and it pays us to make your Amazon journey  get off to a faster start.

Richard Stallman is the creator of the GNU Project and his views are well-respected in the open source domain.

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Roger Dunning is a technology evangelist. He lives in New York with his wife and pet dog. You can find him 24×7 on the Internet.