The Firefox web browser of the upcoming Ubuntu Karmic Koala had a “secret” feature called multisearch. The function of this feature was to modify the Google search in Firefox such that it sent user data back to the developers. I will not go into detail about this feature, which is explained in this Wiki ( this function was disabled on Augus 11), but what I want to tell Canonical and the Ubuntu developers is that one of the very key reasons why some people use Free software is due to the relative privacy they believe they have as against using proprietary softaware.
To implement features that in some way breaches this trust people have got in Free software is a giant leap in the wrong direction to say the least. The last thing Canonical and Ubuntu need now is a loss of goodwill. One of the greatest forces that has made Ubuntu such a force to reckon with is the level of trust we the users have in the OS. To implement needless features without prior information is a deep breach of such trust and should not be accepted.
In October, the gigantic Microsoft is going to release their latest OS dubbed Windows 7. Ubuntu will have a herculian task of getting the much needed publicity that it needs given the relative favorable reviews that Windows 7 has received. Though the feature is said to have been just an experiment, I still insist that it was a wrong move on the part of Canonical and the Ubuntu developers as long as there was no caveat to those who wanted to test the release in question.
Free software in general has a lot of catchup to do the last thing needed is a breach of user trust. Are you trying the alpha release of Karmic Koala? What has been your experience with this function? Do you think it was worth the risk of implementing it? Share your thoughts. Talkback!