[RndTbl] On forcing people to get Google accounts

Alberto Abrao alberto at abrao.net
Mon Nov 7 21:07:07 CST 2022

On 2022-11-05 12:09, John Lange wrote:
> I'm simply pointing out the irony that in a thread dedicated to the 
> gratuitous privacy violations perpetrated on Linux (via its most 
> popular "desktop" Android), your recommendation is to "use Linux" for 
> better privacy(?).

This would be like me using a Ford F-150 on a hit and run, then turning 
around and arguing that Ford makes the worst trucks, seeing that they 
are involved in hit and runs.

Linux is just a kernel. It has nuts and bolts to do pretty much 
anything, but the assembly of those nuts and bolts is up to the 

Yes, I know, this argument sounds like grasping at straws more often 
than not. Yet, here, we are *really* talking about specific 
distribution/OS here (e.g. Fedora, Android, Ubuntu) *NOT* Linux.

> Actually yes I do think Windows 11 is doing more to honour your 
> privacy. Windows11 discloses what it is doing and has privacy controls 
> that give you the ability to shut off all the data collection that it 
> does if you like.

Those toggles don't really do what you expect, I am afraid. They do 
"tune it down", so to say, but they're far from turning it *off*.

And yes, all of that is outlined in the Policy. Not a secret, and most 
people don't care, which is fine.

Still, that doesn't mean you turn telemetry *off*. You can't. Enterprise 
versions give you more control but as far as I remember, it also does 
not have the ability to turn it off completely. That may have changed.

With that said, I do not think "privacy violations" are the main issue 
with Windows. I do agree that Android is far worse, for example. But 
Android - the complete, functional OS that runs on phones - is *not* 
Linux. It *uses* the Linux kernel, just like many other things that are 
far from being a bastion of virtue on the privacy department.

> Fedora, Ubuntu and most linux distros don't say anything about the 
> data that gets sent home by default and offer NO Privacy Controls. 
> There is no built-in way to shut off telemetry, you have to figure out 
> which applications are calling home and manually uninstall them.
Fedora presents it on the first boot experience, at least for the 
default Gnome installation. Last I checked, the Settings application has 
all the toggles there too, with related Privacy Policies linked.

Most of the Fedora Spins don't have much for telemetry other than 
Firefox - which does present its terms on first use.

Ubuntu had an incident with this eons ago, but last I checked, it does 
present the terms as well.

Debian is opt-out by default on the very few things it collects data on 
- the main one (only one?) being popularity-contest, which, as the name 
suggests, transmits data every so often about what packages are 
installed on the system.

It's not a conspiracy, no. But that does not mean all choices are equal. 
It also doesn't mean Windows is the absolute worst.

> I get it that Windows is everyone's favourite OS to hate

I must say I am far from a blind Windows hater. It does some things 
really well.

> , but I think it's reasonable to point out the fact that Linux itself 
> does absolutely nothing to protect your privacy. Anyone can make a 
> distribution of Linux that steals your user data (e.g. Android).
It does not, indeed... just like my screwdriver doesn't do much on its own.

I would be amused if Microsoft stuck all their telemetry on their 
ntoskrnl.exe, or whatever it's called these days. I am also reasonably 
sure that Android has the telemetry bits far from the main kernel.

The same is likely on whatever telemetry is embedded on things that 
leverage the Linux kernel.

> Let's be real here; the majority of privacy loss happens through the 
> applications you have installed (e.g. browsers) regardless of the OS. 
> For those that care about privacy that is where the focus should be.

That is true. 80-20 rule and all that.

Kind regards,
Alberto Abrao

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