Home  |   About  |   Energy  |   Politics  |   Software  |   Music

08 October 2012

Legal questions on the Ubuntu Shopping Lens

Several developments have followed the announcement of the default inclusion of the Shopping Lens feature in Ubuntu 12.10. What seemed at first a surreptitious inclusion of adware in Ubuntu turned into a full blown row when Mark Shutleworth, founder of Canonical, the company that coordinates the Ubuntu development, lit afire the blogosphere claiming that the company had administrative access to every computer running Ubuntu. From there we got to know that even the users that could benefit from the feature are not happy, since the results can not be filtered or customised. A further consequence of this is the possibility of adult oriented products showing up in the results, which puts at risk Ubuntu's usage by children and in professional environments. Answering to all the backlash, Canonical has decided to include settings that allow the user to switch off the Shopping Lens, but it will still be switched on by default.

Actually, this may be just the tip of the iceberg. The inclusion of this commercial oriented feature, more over by default, has the potential to open an unheard of conflict in the FOSS universe.

Update:In consequence of the questions raised in this post I created a petition addressed at Canonical requesting the removal of automatic data collection features.