Applications updating & phoning home

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Personally I believe that any application packaged for Debian should neither phone home, attempt to download plugins over HTTP at run-time, or update itself.

On that basis I've filed #761828.

As a project we have guidelines for what constitutes a "serious" bug, which generally boil down to a package containing a security issue, causing data-loss, or being unusuable.

I'd like to propose that these kind of tracking "things" are equally bad. If consensus could be reached that would be a good thing for the freedom of our users.

(Ooops I slipped into "us", "our user", I'm just an outsider looking in. Mostly.)

| 4 comments.

 

Comments On This Entry

[gravitar] Stuart

Submitted at 02:51:29 on 17 september 2014

The maintainer for this package was in #debian-mentors getting some advice about this a couple of weeks ago. That's good news at least.

The rest of that file is pretty ugly as code goes too... it looks a lot like someone wrote a bash script first and then "rewrote" it in C.

[author] Steve Kemp

Submitted at 05:08:37 on 17 september 2014

That's good to know, and yes the code is very .. odd.

[gravitar] thveillon

Submitted at 09:47:15 on 17 september 2014

Hello Mr Kemp, and thank you for caring about this issue which I find disturbing myself. Following the reading of this article I filed bug #761944 regarding the "Converseen" program. I wanted to do so for a while and your post was the needed push. Converseen launchs an URL when the program is started, without user interaction or consent, and leads to a "thank you" (donation) page where the user is invited to click on random links and banner. Not long ago my son (8 years) called me while using Converseen because the web browser had suddenly started.

Such behavior as nothing to do in Debian IMHO.

More disturbingly the "q4wine" program uses a similar tactic to direct users to a political piece in support of the Ukrainian army in the ongoing conflict with Russia. I opened #761968 to bring attention on this matter.

Thank you for this inspiring post !

[gravitar] Anonymous

Submitted at 16:54:37 on 17 september 2014

I'm not sure how these issues can be tracked easily but I think they're important and should be tackled systematically, as a matter of policy.

 

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