They should have thought of it before implementing the Shopping and the Amazon lenses
After the huge pressure exercised by the community, Canonical has implemented an option to stop the online dash searches.We all remember the day when Mark Shuttelworth announced that Ubuntu 12.10 will include an Amazon lens and that it will be integrated into the Home lens.
A lot of people have questioned this strange decision, even if Canonical, through the voice of Mark Shuttelworth, has denied any prior agreements made with Amazon.
There were a host of problems that somehow manifested themselves, all at one, right after the Amazon announcement.
The most prominent problem was that Amazon could get personal info about the user. Canonical explained that they were the middleman of the query and that no personal information, such as the IP for example, ever reached the online store.
Unfortunately, Amazon provides the thumbnails of the results straight to the user, and not to Canonical. Therefore, Amazon could possibly match an anonymous query with the thumbnails they've sent.
If this wasn't enough, the Shopping lens could return, under certain conditions, adult imagery. This provoked an angered response from the community, who believed this would be really inappropriate for children, especially if they are using their parents computers.
Canonical has taken the Ubuntu 12.10 out of feature freeze and added a really important option, in Settings > Privacy.
In the Search Results tab, we now find the option “When searching in the Dash: Include online search results.” This can be turned on and off.
Right off the bat, there are two problems. First off, the option is tuned on by default, which means that the potential user of Ubuntu 12.10 must know that the options exists and where precisely is it.
Secondly, the option doesn't require the root password. It's juts on and off and anyone can switch it back on, if they know where the option is.
Let's hope that it will be improved, even if it's after the official launch, on October 18th. Just update the system and the options will be available.