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Free Software versus Affiliate Marketing?

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by thejake, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. thejake

    thejake Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, has been getting some bad press lately via the "father" of Free Software, Richard Stallman, who called them out for "spying" on users, including Amazon search (with affiliate links) in their Unity Dash desktop search tool.

    But, does Stallman have a dog in the hunt? He certainly hates Amazon with a laundry list of grievances that range from the legitimate to the ludicrous. And why is he so late to the game? Back in September Mark Shuttleworth offered his excuses, grandiose claims, and arrogant justification ("we got root") for the move, but later Canonical updated their privacy policy to make it clear they were planning on serving up affiliate links. That was October.

    What awakened the sleeping giant? How can Stallman pejoratively claim Canonical is "spying," when Canonical made it very clear they don't track personally identifiable information and disclose what searches are relayed to their product search service, and how to opt out of it? Is his real objective to censure Canonical for violating free software users' privacy, or to stick it to Amazon in any way he can, harming an Amazon affiliate in the process?

    The question applies for all affiliate marketers: the internet runs on Linux, Apache, MySQL, GCC, and countless other free software packages. Does that give free software advocates and writers the authority to decide the right and wrong way to monetize your services, traffic, and userbase?