The UK authorities have declared that the Ubuntu Shopping Lens are legal and that no laws have been broken, either in Great Britain or in the European Union.
Some of you might remember that Canonical took a lot of flak from the community when the developers decided to integrate the Shopping Lens into the Ubuntu operating system. Two years have passed since then and a lot of things have changed in the meantime.
For once, the Lens are now called Scopes, but that's beside the point. When the Ubuntu Shopping Lens were first introduced, users didn't have any control over them, at least not in a clear and easy way. There was no warning that data was sent over the network and there was no button to turn it off.
Ubuntu has improved the user's interaction with the Lens (Scopes), and since then, Canonical has taken several steps to inform users about their existence, after the installation of the OS has been completed. Now there is a simple and easy way to stop them by pressing a single button.
Two years ago, a blogger named Luís de Sousa published an article in which he supposedly brought evidence to show that Canonical was breaking the EU law. Even after the waves made by his article simmered down, he felt that he could do more. The company that makes Ubuntu is based in England, so he lodged a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
Like all bureaucratic actions, it took the office a while to reach a conclusion, but in the end they said that Canonical was not breaking any law and that the Ubuntu Shopping Lens (presently Scopes) was completely legal in its use and implementation.
“We (ICO) consider the (first time displayed, and later ‘iconised’) legal notice added by Canonical Ltd to the bottom right corner of the Dash, when Amazon searches were introduced, to have reasonably ensured compliance with the DPA for the introduction of those searches.”
“We also consider Canonical Ltd to have made reasonably available to Ubuntu users suitable information to assist people in limiting searches undertaken, or in removing the feature involved from their installation,” reads the notification from the Information Commissioner's Office.
Currently, very few people even mention the Shopping Lens, and that is a clear sign that users have gotten used to them and that they have learned to use them or shut the functionality off entirely.
You can head over to Mr. Luís de Sousa’s blog for the complete response he received from the Information Commissioner's Office, which is quite extensive.