EFF & Privacy; hopefully Ubuntu will listen to users‏

nick rundy nrundy at hotmail.com
Tue Oct 30 04:03:13 UTC 2012

The most important thing to me as a computer user is the 
privacy & security of the data I entrust my OS to handle and the 
OS's communication to me about what internet connections my OS and the 
Applications installed on it are making.

Ubuntu is not doing well
 in this regard lately. In the dialog that comes up on a new 12.10 
install asking me to contribute to Ubuntu, I saw no option indicating 
"Privacy & Security of Ubuntu." Yet this is the most important thing
 to me and the thing most likely to make me want to contribute.

 have been speaking out about the privacy (data leaking) issues that 
keep popping up in Ubuntu over the last few development cycles for a 
while now. 

I've received a lot of grief over it on the Ubuntu 
forums & elsewhere. But it is very important to me so I have 
continued to speak out. I speak out not to put Ubuntu down or criticize 
anyone in particular. I simply want to draw attention to an important 
topic and hopefully get the issues addressed in the development cycle.

 encouraging to see that the EFF shares my concerns: 

 Amazon ads are just the latest example however. The problem was seen in
 12.04 with the geoclue-ubuntu-geoip package. This package is/was a 
major privacy issue with no solution. There is no way to uninstall this 
package from 12.04 without loosing Time in the top-panel. And then there
 is/was the unity-lens-video and unity-lens-music package issues. These 
regularly connected to the internet in the early 12.04 days, even when 
the Local Disk filter was selected. Thankfully I spotted this and 
reported it and it was fixed. But the whole idea that the Dash connects 
to the internet for everything is a concept that is VERY unappealing to 
many users who value their privacy and security. Web Browsers are 
designed and built with Security & Privacy capabilities by design. 
The Dash does not have these same Privacy & Security features nor 
does it have the UI to communicate security & privacy to the user 
like Web Browsers can. Why would I want to use the Dash for internet 
connections when I can use a Web Browser and gain all the 
security/privacy it offers? I want the Dash to SOLELY work locally and 
have nothing to do with the internet (which is the province of my Web 
Browser). It is encouraging to see Ubuntu start to work towards 
addressing this with 13.04. But I have been speaking to this for over a 
year now, and all I've got from it is criticism and frankly meanness 
from many people.

Notwithstanding the Dash, the larger issue 
still exists that there is no way to control internet connections in 
general from an Application perspective. Users of Ubuntu cannot control 
which Applications can and cannot connect to the internet. And users 
have poor options for learning about active connections. There are tools
 available, but these are real time apps with no logging capabilities. 
Couple this with the fact that Ubuntu is now sending data off to Third 
Parties as a course of doing business and this issue is now the most 
serious issue facing Ubuntu as there are users that will totally stop 
using the OS for privacy/security concerns.

Essentially, Ubuntu needs to do two things:
 make privacy/security a important consideration in all new features 
while giving users the option of making the Dash a completely LOCAL 

2) create an Application Firewall for Ubuntu so that 
users can effectively discover what applications are making connections 
to the internet. 

I really hope that resolving this issue is 
moved to the top of the Ubuntu Development list. And I hope that Ubuntu 
listens to the community as I (and others) have been speaking out on 
this issue for quite some time now and it only seems to be getting 

Thanks for listening.
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