Posts Tagged ‘software’

FSF Richard Stallman reports Spying Ubuntu; Canonical getting offensive

this post was written in a lot of hurry and much more anger by a non-native English speaker and even I find it bad reading again…

one of the readers have been kind enough to proof-read and rewrite it here as comment (thanks): https://techiebond.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/fsf-rsm-reports-spying-ubuntu-offensive/#comment-14

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First a backgrounder regarding what happened recently to annoy me (and hopefully many others) to the point that I’m posting on my wtf-happens-in-tech-blog after so much time has passed.

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One of the most (in recent years) popular Debian-based GNU/Linux distros, Ubuntu, has been found to be using a feature which analyses user behaviour to serve advertisements more accurately targeted towards users perceived needs.

RMS (Richard Matthew Stallman) compared it to a proprietary malware product performing user surveillance for profit; As in Selling out users, who trusted the software because of promotion by various FOSS advocates and users… for money. Speaking for myself and some users known to me personally, Ubuntu was initially tried and used under the pretence that it fell under the guidelines of Free Software.

Richard’s report on User Spying Ubuntu: http://www.fsf.org/blogs/rms/ubuntu-spyware-what-to-do
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Ubuntu spying Users Activity
Ubuntu spying Users Activity

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There have been replies to the piece by a few people, one of which being a ‘personal’ reply from Jono Bacon(Ubuntu Community Manager) which was brought to my attention via a HackerNews Top List.

Bacon claims that RMS is being childish for taking a stand against Ubuntu Dash sending user data to Canonical Servers and accuses him of spreading FUD (Fear Uncertainty, and Doubt) regarding the issue. Shockingly, while dismissing blithely all the factual points in RMS piece, Bacon then askes for facts?!

F***king **it, dumb software-issues-illiterate fan-clubs.

RMS for most of his life (longer than I’ve lived) has been promoting Free Software on the ethics of respecting users freedoms, privacy and self determination for users to choose how to use software. He is a super dedicated Free Software advocate loved and respected by the entire (ok, most of it) Free Software community for his devotion; Yet over the years has endured being insulted and dismissed as eccentric by people who see him only as an obstacle on their road to marketing software.

As for FUD, the truth is that if a piece of code on my system (that was installed by a service I trusted to respect my user freedoms) starts sending my usage data online to some server for any purpose without explicitly informing me…baby, that’s spyware!

Now, different organizations have been pulling loads of user data to their servers for to facilitate ‘better service’ for quite some time now.. nowadays it’s even jargonized as “TheBigData”. That doesn’t make it Ethical in any way though. Unless you are some FB teenager waiting for Likes on your post of new amazing shoes you bought with the help of a magical advertisement served to you that considered what your friends bought, which shops are near your home, and what kind of places you visit to determine your financial worth; It’s not particularly wanted either.

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There was a piece posted a few months back by Mark Shuttleworth (founder of Canonical) regarding why it’s essential this chaos-creating product Ubuntu Dash be pushed in even before maturing enough to include a turn-on/off option. He said the encryption would be placed on queries in the release version and the turn-on/off setting would be controllable by the 13.04 release at the latest.

But Mr.Space Cadet gives no proper justification for Ads (and denies any ads are being promoted in favour of Amazon or their ties to Canonical), he just says that he chose Amazon because most Ubuntu users use Amazon. Oh! Seriously…was it that easy now ?! On those Amazon ties: There is a very fine question asked in the same vein within the comments section of the very same piece regarding why the useful DuckDuckGo search service is not also used to enhance user experience experience. No reply to that; Maybe Mr. Shuttleworth just doesn’t read his own blog?

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Although I haven’t used Ubuntu in the past few years, I have continued to use other GNU/Linux flavours. I would certainly not suggest Ubuntu, as I once did to new tux lovers, to anyone now.

So as RMS said….. boling his own words

to all Free Software supporters….. Ubuntu is shunned for spying.

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