Ubuntu Linux 12.04 helps ensure privacy

Say the word “privacy,” and most of us think of online privacy–along with the never-ending battle against spyware, tracking, and other opponents of the cause.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that our operating systems typically record things about us, too, such as the activities we perform on them and the files we use. That can be helpful, enabling things like quick access to that document we were just working on, for example; it can also be a problem, since anyone who gains access to your computer can potentially see all that stuff as well.

We’re all accustomed by now to “Do Not Track” features in our Web browsers, for example, but new technology in Canonical’s forthcoming Ubuntu Linux 12.04 will reportedly put similar privacy controls in users’ hands at the level of the operating system itself.

You can delete your activity log

Specifically, Ubuntu Linux 12.04 “Precise Pangolin”–now in beta–will introduce new, OS-wide privacy settings that give users a way to delete portions of their activity log, disable logging altogether for certain files and applications, or completely disable activity logging across the board, according to a Thursday blog post from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The result, notes EFF Web Developer Micah Lee, is that “you can now delete your GNOME activity log from the past hour, day, week, a specific date range, or everything stored on your computer.”

Users can also choose to disable Ubuntu’s logging of activity on their Pidgin chat software, say, though they’d also have to disable Pidgin’s own logging to eliminate all their chat history, Lee writes.

To disable all activity logging on the computer, users can simply turn off the “Record Activity” switch.

A worthy objective

To enable easy access to this new level of control, the Ubuntu team has integrated the Activity Log Manager user interface for the software’s Zeitgeist event logger into Ubuntu’s System Settings application, reports The H.
It sounds like the EFF approves of the effort.

“Retrofitting operating systems to support privacy against local attackers is a worthy objective, but not an easy one,” Lee concludes. “We hope that Ubuntu and other projects will be in this for the long haul.”

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Featured Story

How the CTO can Maintain Cloud Momentum Across the Enterprise

Embracing cloud is easy for some individuals. But embedding widespread cloud adoption at the enterprise level is...

Related Tech News

Get ITBusiness Delivered

Our experienced team of journalists brings you engaging content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives delivered directly to your inbox.

Featured Tech Jobs