Free Software Foundation Attacks Ubuntu’s Amazon Search

Just when we thought it was over, the saga surrounding Canonical‘s controversial integration of Amazon.com search features into Ubuntu resurged this week as Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation, denounced the feature as “spyware.” Depending on whether you think Stallman is a messianic visionary or a self-caricaturing embarrassment to the open source community, his thoughts may or may not sway your opinion. Either way, though, they highlight the huge challenges Canonical faces gaining user acceptance of its policies.
In an essay published Friday, Stallman complained about a new feature, introduced with the release of Ubuntu 12.10 in October 2012, that displays results from Amazon.com when users search in the Dash of Ubuntu’s Unity desktop interface. Notably, in an indication that he was writing in his official capacity as founder and president of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), his words appeared on its website, rather than on his personal site, where he often posts thoughts about a variety of timely issues.
In addition to expressing concerns over Canonical’s collaboration with Amazon.com, a company which he believes “commits many wrongs,” Stallman complained in the essay about what he perceives as brazen violation of Ubuntu users’ privacy:
Ubuntu uses the information about searches to

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