Canonical assures us that the data will be protected
Canonical will try to make Ubuntu 13.04 its best release so far and one of the ways to do that is by improving the Dash functionality and its online features.We all remember the storm that took Canonical by surprise when they first announced that Unity Dash searches will be done online, especially in the Home lens.
They've taken some further steps since then and incorporated a “kill switch” for all the online searches, but this decision was met with skepticism because the option to search online through the Dash is on by default.
In any case, Canonical has published a document in which they outline how the search in Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) will work. They've called it the "100 Scopes" project.
“Ubuntu will include many new scopes, with many more in the future as part of the "100 Scopes" project. The Dash now gets and contributes information from a central server on which scopes are best able to answer Dash queries, in order to make the Dash home scope maximally useful through community-contributed scopes and usage data.
“As before, the Dash can be restricted from including any online content or contribution in the Privacy system settings,” states the document.
Among all the important information published in this document, the thing that Ubuntu users will be interested the most will be in regard to the privacy issues.
The process of sending the relevant data to Canonical's server has been described in great detail, but what will definitely grab the attention is the decision to send geographical information.
It makes sense, in a way, if you are looking for a product on Amazon, for example, but people will see this as a breach in privacy.
Canonical has assured the users that their data will not be disseminated to third-party companies and they say it will be treated with the utmost care.
Distributions past the 13.04 mark will gather even more information, such as how long the results were on screen for, seen-results-count, clicked-duration, clicked-results-count, clicked-result-position, previewed-duration, previewed-results-count, and previewed-scope-result-position.
More details about this "100 Scopes" project can be found on the official Ubuntu Wiki.