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Not to defend them, but in modern world my assumption is that everything I do on the machine is recorded by someone. As long as my bank account is not affected, not sure I care.

It's very sad when people just give up like this.

It's not giving up; it's embracing a set of risks for a reward. The question is whether one feels the set of risks and the reward are too ill-defined to make the trade worth it.

Microsoft appears to be in the business of trying to build a fully-functioning virtual assistant. If they're solving that problem with big data, they need a full stream of the user's behavior to operate on. But the tradeoff---an actual, working virtual assistant---could very well be worth it to people for whom that personal information is not worth hiding from a corporation with no vested interest in undermining their customer base by irresponsibly divulging that data.

If anything's sad, it's that we live in a world where some people do not have the freedom to treat their private info so loosely. That's a true tragedy, because there will increasingly be technologies they can't take advantage of.

I think they should definitely have the freedom to treat their private info loosely, but I think that the decision itself should be an Opt-in rather than an Opt-out affair. We shouldn't have to build our own tools to turn this off.

Can someone explain this?

Hope you don't do online banking.

Why not run an operating system which doesn't do this instead? I.e, any major non-Ubuntu Linux distro. Debian's pretty good.

Why would you not recommend Ubuntu? It's been several years since last time I use desktop version but it was pretty good then.

It used to (not sure if it still does) send stuff which you typed into the Dash, to Amazon - https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/10/privacy-ubuntu-1210-am...

As a hacker news reader you should know that this is extremely simple to disable / uninstall. Ubuntu is ok for a desktop, because you will find a lot of software ready to be installed on Ubuntu without having to dig into details of software packaging / compilation etc. This is especially true for all kinds of media software.

As a hacker news reader, you should know that defaults are imporant.


For some reason I can't edit that comment...... Didn't mean to post it at all!

Linus Torvalds shit all over Ubuntu for the feature (and rightly so)... but I don't see the need to boycott the system (as he does) since it is fairly easy to disable.

edit: just wanted to mention that when I first installed ubuntu I forgot to disable the feature, performed some very innocuous searches, and was shown loads of porn results from Amazon. That alone makes the feature completely worthless and frankly dangerous (depending on the environment that you're using ubuntu in).

I ditched Ubuntu when it became clear that their goals did not align with mine. I care about privacy, so I will not support an operating system which leaks personal data by default, on purpose.

may I ask what phone OS do you use?

Cyanogenmod. I use privacy guard to limit which apps get access to various sensors and data on my phone. I then use a combination of OrWall, Orbot and OpenVPN so I can choose on a per app basis one of three options:

1.) No Internet access (the default)

2.) Route through Tor

3.) Route via VPN to a server at home and out through my broadband connection (I trust my broadband ISP slightly more than my mobile network provider). This protects me on untrusted WiFi networks too.

[edit] I wish I didn't have to do all this, but the smartphone OS market doesn't give me non-leaky OS options in the same way that the Desktop market does.

After falling with the locations' UI trick[1], I've decided to move away from Google's Android.

Luckily Cyanogenmod supports my phone. I will attempt the installation soon. Any piece of advice, or something you would like have known when at my situation?

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10052199

What's with the reddit-style downvotes on my parent comment? Is it because I used the "shit" word?

edit: nm, based on the other downvotes in this thread I'm guessing zealots at this point.

Ubuntu implemented the Amazon lens by default a few years ago. People got cranky about it.

I'd like to ask a short diversion question: why specifically not Ubuntu?


I assume the same sort of stuff is happening on Ubuntu today, but I stopped using Ubuntu on the desktop/laptop when this came out and started using Debian instead.

fact checking: in 2014 Ubuntu make the amazon unity thing opt in: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2014/03/ubuntu-make-amazon-produc...

but regardless, they've lost too much respect/credibility for including it in the first place, so I wouldn't trust them in general.

As long as your aren't the current group it is popular to pick on and you don't anger (or make fall in love) anyone with significant power, you'll probably be fine. I'm sure there were plenty who didn't care about slavery as long as they weren't the slaves.

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