[Ubuntu-US-CA] RMS vs. Amazon search results feature

Jono Bacon jono at ubuntu.com
Sun Dec 16 02:01:55 UTC 2012

On Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 10:23 PM, Grant Bowman <grantbow at ubuntu.com> wrote:

> > What is the objection about Canonical making money in Ubuntu given the
> > millions of dollars invested into Ubuntu?
> I think trust is the primary issue.
> First, that was a partial quote of a sentence and I think not the most
> important aspect of this whole debate. Second, I didn't express that
> particular sentiment accurately. Perhaps it would be more clear with
> an appended "in this way." I am not alone in feeling this particular
> implementation crosses a line of trust. Perhaps as you say Canonical
> "didn’t get it 100% right". That's why I am trying to reserve
> judgement despite it being released in a non LTS version inserted at
> the last minute from what I heard. If Canonical had submitted a
> similar feature to Debian do you suspect it would have gotten accepted
> or is Canonical somehow abusing it's specially entrusted power? People
> trust this environment because it is level and open. This feature as
> implemented so far is neither.
> A few things here:

 * I believe that Canonical has demonstrated pretty good trust over the
years. Sure, there are some examples in which people feel Canonical them
them down, but I think if we are talking about "trust", Canonical has
generally acted in a trustworthy manner over the years - we are still very
much a community project, openly governed, we sponsor many community
members to every UDS to participate, and Mark Shuttleworth continues to be
a member of the Community Council. I appreciate that you have reservations
about this feature but lets keep things in perspective over the seven years
that Canonical has been investing in Ubuntu.
 * This feature did not get pushed in at the last minute. It landed near
the end of the development cycle, but that is common across the Ubuntu
development community. what happened was that the feature landed and then
there were a series of improvements to it to refine it based on the
original plan and based on feedback (e.g. encrypting the results, filtering
adult results out, adding a opt-out button to the Privacy settings, adding
a notice on the dash chrome to inform users about the feature, and updating
the privacy policy). While I can understand people objecting the privacy
policy, the means in which the feature landed in Ubuntu was perfectly
normal within the context of the development branch.

> Other entities including but not limited to the EFF have expressed
> their concerns pretty well.
> https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/10/privacy-ubuntu-1210-amazon-ads-and-data-leaks
The EFF article was excellent; I agree.

> Where is the money coming from? Facebook, Twitter, BBC, Amazon and
> other third parties of Canonical's choosing, right? This is done by
> keylogging "send your keystrokes" from all the searches on a default
> install with no notice to end users, right? Making money from work one
> does is what Canonical has carefully done in the past. I believe
> Canonical is trying to find the balance and is doing a better job than
> anyone else I think in this regard.
You have this a little wrong on two points:

 * Firstly, this is not keylogging. Keylogging is the covert collection of
keystrokes against the knowledge of the user. This feature is not secret,
it is pretty well documented, and we don't let malicious software such as
keyloggers and spyware into the archive.
 * Secondly, you are confusing the web apps feature the Amazon feature. In
12.10 we included support for web apps integration into Ubuntu such as the
Facebookm BBC, and Twitter examples you mentioned. We don't make money on
those - that is just feature integration so our users get a better
experience. Also, in terms of the Amazon search results, we don't make
money from the searches (again, this is not keylogging to make money), we
only make affiliate revenue from purchases made through the dash. This is
no different to if you put an affiliate link to a product on Amazon on your


Jono Bacon
Ubuntu Community Manager
www.ubuntu.com / www.jonobacon.org
www.identi.ca/jonobacon www.twitter.com/jonobacon
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