Ubuntu Dash Search Is Not Anonymous
I threw together this post because I felt the need to clarify my stance, and some general knowledge about how your Dash search results in Ubuntu are not anonymous, no matter how much others may want you to believe.
The reason for this post is an short blerp on /. (Slashdot) which states “The Dash Is Now Anonymized In Ubuntu 13.10″. It’s not. The post on Slashdot links to a discussion that I participated in on Google + from David Callé who originally posted;
First let me explain that I have not personally researched or deeply analyzed any code regarding Unity, or Dash search (smart scopes) etc. I can however make some general assumptions and point to some documents that further prove my claim with ease. I think you will agree.
1. Search results are sent to Canonical, and then to the third parties. Rather that data is “anonymized” when its received by Canonical is irrelevant. Canonical knows where the search originated as it has to send the results back to that same device. Could this be circumvented, possibly if they routed the search’s through TOR, or utilize some technology for onion/garlic routing or some other darknet/deepweb. But I can assure you Canonical is not doing this.
Searching in the dash
When you enter a search term into the dash Ubuntu will search your Ubuntu computer and will record the search terms locally. Unless you have opted out (see the “Online Search” section below), we will also send your keystrokes as a search term to productsearch.ubuntu.com and selected third parties so that we may complement your search results with online search results from such third parties including: Facebook, Twitter, BBC and Amazon. Canonical and these selected third parties will collect your search terms and use them to provide you with search results while using Ubuntu.
By searching in the dash you consent to:
- the collection and use of your search terms and IP address in this way; and
- the storage of your search terms and IP address by Canonical and such selected third parties (if applicable).
You may restrict your dash so that we don’t send searches to third parties and you don’t receive online search results. To do this go to the Privacy panel and toggle the ‘Include online search results’ option to off. The Privacy panel can be found in your System Settings or via a dash search. For a current list of our selected third parties, please see the third party privacy policies.
What do we do with the information we collect
We may use your information in the following ways:
- To authenticate access to certain features of our websites.
- To contact you to respond to enquiries or to provide notices to you regarding your use of our websites or the provision of our services.
- To provide services, products, process payment, and authenticate access (where required).
- To analyse the performance or the appropriateness of products or services.
- To comply with legal and regulatory requirements (including responding to court orders, subpoenas and to prevent crime). These special circumstances may require us to disclose personal information.
- To contact you if your actions violate your agreement with us (if any).
- To fix errors and analyse trends.
- To study how anonymous users interact with our websites and services.
- To market our products or services to you.
The definition of Anonymous
made or done by someone unknown. not named or identified
The search may be anonymized by Canonical before it’s sent to any third parties, however Canonical still knows (or has the ability to know) who and what you are searching for.
1. It can be turned off. Yes, we know….
2. This information is only handed over when legally required. Except, as we have seen post Snowden, the legal requirements are vague, issued by secret courts, served with gag orders, and occur sometimes with a rubber stamp.
3. It can be turned off. Yes, we know…
4. FUD. I don’t think so.
I’m interested in your comments.