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Ubuntu to ditch Amazon product suggestions from its search results

In future, they'll be opt-in only
Mon Mar 31 2014, 14:13

ubuntu-orange-precise-pangolinTHE UBUNTU LINUX Unity desktop will no longer display Amazon product suggestions by default in search results.

In a post on Google+, Canonical MD Michael Hall explained that Amazon search results in the next version of Unity will be on an opt-in basis.

Introduced in 2012, the search feature will be changed in the upcoming version of the Unity desktop, but it will not be implemented in the present Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release.

Existing users already have the option to remove Amazon product suggestions from search results in their settings. However, the issue is one of privacy. In order to obtain search results from a provider, Unity has to send your search strings to that website. Because results for Amazon are switched on by default, Amazon receives and reacts to search terms with only users' implied consent, not explicit consent.

Although Ubuntu servers preserve the anonymity of search data, users are not keen on their search terms being sent to all search providers, most notably Amazon, which is a commercial partner.

In the era of NSA surveillance, Canonical has been forced to address such privacy concerns. Ubuntu will make an addition to Scope, which is what it calls the selection of search resources, to enable users to opt-in to the search providers they want to use.

Hall said, "The default scope (Applications) won't return Amazon results. The Scopes scope might return the Amazon scope in response to a query, but it won't return Amazon results. The Scopes scope will send your query info to Canonical (as far as I understand it). Only searching in the Amazon scope itself will return Amazon results (it's not clear to me if these queries will still be anonymized through Canonical servers)."

Canonical recently announced its first mobile phone devices running Ubuntu, however full convergence between the desktop and mobile versions of Ubuntu Linux has been delayed. µ


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