Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

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majpooper
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by majpooper »

Here is what Roku phones home without your permission - and these were just the last 10 instances - and it is doing this 24/7 even when not in use - if it's on your network it is monitoring you and capturing your data and probably selling it. My PiHole DNS server blocks some of them - I had to play with it because if I block all of them then I get no content.

Code: Select all

2019-12-16 19:12:45 	A	cooper.logs.roku.com	rokuultra	Blocked (gravity)	- (0.1ms)	
2019-12-16 19:00:06 	A	configsvc.cs.roku.com	rokuultra	OK (forwarded)
INSECURE	IP (29.2ms)	
2019-12-16 18:58:42 	A	captive.roku.com	rokuultra	OK (forwarded)
INSECURE	CNAME (28.1ms)	
2019-12-16 18:58:42 	A	captive.roku.com	rokuultra	OK (forwarded)
INSECURE	CNAME (26.5ms)	
2019-12-16 18:58:42 	A	captive.roku.com	rokuultra	OK (forwarded)
INSECURE	CNAME (26.5ms)	
2019-12-16 18:58:22 	A	api-global.netflix.com	rokuultra	OK (cached)	CNAME (0.1ms)	
2019-12-16 18:58:00 	A	api-global.netflix.com	rokuultra	OK (cached)	CNAME (0.1ms)	
2019-12-16 18:58:00 	A	api-global.netflix.com	rokuultra	OK (forwarded)
INSECURE	CNAME (30.2ms)	
2019-12-16 18:57:44 	A	cooper.logs.roku.com	rokuultra	Blocked (gravity)	- (0.1ms)	
2019-12-16 18:57:20 	A	api-global.netflix.com	rokuultra	OK (cached)	CNAM
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by DAMIEN1307 »

Hi majpooper,

What i do, which is different than most Roku users, is that not only are both my Roku's hardwired into a secondary router with next to no priviledges with just the bare minumum to let them deliver content, but I also unplug the power cord and ethernet cables attached to the router and Roku's when not in use...That is about the best work around that i could come up with to minimise "ET calling home".

If you know of anything better than this, I REALLY need to know how...lol...DAMIEN
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by lsemmens »

Of course, even if we do not use the internet, we cannot be invisible. If we use any service, be it shop, bank, government agency, telephone, someone has a record of us. The ONLY WAY you can be totally invisible is if both of your parents live out in the middle of the rainforest with NO contact with the outside world, never having let ANYONE know about your existence, and You lived there, too, with NO contact with anyone - EVER.

Of course the above situation is impractical, and almost impossible. Our lives are as they currently are. The best we can do, is minimise our exposure, and never do anything to attract the attention of the authorities.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by jameskga »

I have been interested in this subject since I first discovered PIA is a leading donator to the Miint project, and is also featured in the Software Manager.

I've been aware since 18.x of PIA donating money to the project. I am aware Clem says donations do not steer decisions to include features. He emphasized this when a user requested a feature on a release notes comment section, after the user offered to donate extra to see special attention given to that feature. So I found it concerning when in the next Mint release PIA's tool was featured in the Software Manager, and maybe even a splash screen after first login.

I never said anything, because I wasn't ready to stir that pot when I noticed it. I thought, I'll keep this one in my back pocket, and one day, for a laugh, I might bring it up on the forums. Before reading this thread, I wondered if perhaps the project is simply too small, and that maybe I was the only person to notice it. Now I see that I was not the only one.

Because it appears to me that donations from a VPN provider with a high media presence did - in this instance - steer a proclivity to feature that certain VPN provider, despite Clem's insistence to the contrary. I love Mint, Clem, and his efforts. More to the point, I do not actually believe it is such a big deal if major contributions from PIA did lead Clem to include and feature PIA VPN software (in this case, steering new subscribers to PIA in the future, in return for the sponsorship). Still, it is something I take seriously, because the wrong choices can have profound effects on the integrity of the entire platform.

I say yes, that happened, yes it's problematic, and because there are such profound ethical implications, I would like to think PIA being featured after donating so handsomely to the Mint project was an isolated incident. No private company should be suggested or preferred. I take such a hard stance on ethics in this situation, that I believe if they donate money, special consideration should be taken to ensure they are NOT included as featured software suggestions to new users, just so there is no question whether their donations influenced a decision to drive open source software users to a private outside service.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by gene0915 »

jameskga wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:59 am
I have been interested in this subject since I first discovered PIA is a leading donator to the Miint project, and is also featured in the Software Manager.

I've been aware since 18.x of PIA donating money to the project. I am aware Clem says donations do not steer decisions to include features. He emphasized this when a user requested a feature on a release notes comment section, after the user offered to donate extra to see special attention given to that feature. So I found it concerning when in the next Mint release PIA's tool was featured in the Software Manager, and maybe even a splash screen after first login.

I never said anything, because I wasn't ready to stir that pot when I noticed it. I thought, I'll keep this one in my back pocket, and one day, for a laugh, I might bring it up on the forums. Before reading this thread, I wondered if perhaps the project is simply too small, and that maybe I was the only person to notice it. Now I see that I was not the only one.

Because it appears to me that donations from a VPN provider with a high media presence did - in this instance - steer a proclivity to feature that certain VPN provider, despite Clem's insistence to the contrary. I love Mint, Clem, and his efforts. More to the point, I do not actually believe it is such a big deal if major contributions from PIA did lead Clem to include and feature PIA VPN software (in this case, steering new subscribers to PIA in the future, in return for the sponsorship). Still, it is something I take seriously, because the wrong choices can have profound effects on the integrity of the entire platform.

I say yes, that happened, yes it's problematic, and because there are such profound ethical implications, I would like to think PIA being featured after donating so handsomely to the Mint project was an isolated incident. No private company should be suggested or preferred. I take such a hard stance on ethics in this situation, that I believe if they donate money, special consideration should be taken to ensure they are NOT included as featured software suggestions to new users, just so there is no question whether their donations influenced a decision to drive open source software users to a private outside service.
Right there with you! I've donated to Mint before and once I'm in better financial shape (wife gets a job :) ), I'll absolutely donate more money to the cause. It bothers me that PIA (which is now owned by a company that has been know to produce garbage-ware) is Mint's only, platinum sponsor. The conspiracy side of me is a bit uneasy with that.

While I'm positive Mint has a large install base, compared to Windows, it represents a fraction of the desktop market place. And because it is a small community (relatively speaking), bad news would travel fast. --IF-- PIA started to lace their newer builds of VPN software with spyware, or if their software was confirmed to be doing something naughty and Clem still accepted donations from them, Mint would be guilty by association. At that point, I think people would abandon Mint out of fear that a spyware company could potentially be influencing the direction of Mint and putting in backdoors or telemetry gathering tools and reporting it all back somewhere *cough* Microsoft *cough*. If PIA's VPN software turns to garbage, and Clem continues to accept money from them, I think I'd have to possibly look elsewhere for a new distro which would SUUUUUUUCK because I love Mint and the Cinnamon desktop. I'd probably run to MX Linux in that case.

Since I cancelled my PIA account, I'll never install/use their software so not a huge deal. If PIA goes down the path of polluting their VPN software with garbage, it's a moral quandary that Clem and the gang will have to face......... keep taking money from a malware spewing company or publicly announce that they, in good conscious, can no longer accept donations from PIA and remove them as a platinum sponsor.

In closing, I don't want to sound like I'm beating up on Clem/Mint! Does Ubuntu have sponsors I don't care for? YES! Do those sponsors have a history of spewing malware? Off the top of my head, I don't think so. Has Debian done some things I morally object to, YES. You can't fight every battle and must pick and chose sometimes.

As time goes by, I take my digital privacy more and more serious. I was a big user of PIA's VPN software for years. Once I heard about the takeover, I was done with them. I understand that people need money to survive and put food on the table and a roof over their head but their is a cost associated with all that. Sometimes it's a monetary cost and other times, a moral cost. Clem is free to take money from whoever he wants as we're all free to use whatever Linux distro we want.

For now, I'll stick with Clem and the Mint team and give them the benefit of the doubt until/unless they demonstrate that they are no longer worthy of my trust and support. If I were them, I'd just keep a sharp eye out for any news in the VPN world about possible shenanigans that PIA might pull. If PIA proves to be an untrustworthy partner, it might be time for the Mint team to publicly announce they have been removed as a platinum sponsor.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by majpooper »

I take a somewhat different view. Full disclosure: I use PrivateTunnel VPN which partners with OpenVPN.
But I do understand the concern as a PIA someone could feel as a PIA customer that they get taken over by an entity you don't trust or just don't like the idea of the whole situation. You get to vote with your feet and choose a different VPN provider. Since I know nothing about PIA or their new ownership I have no opinion about either.

However when it comes to sponsorship I do have an opinion. We (I use the collective we here - meaning the entire Mint community) all enjoy and get way more value from Mint than what I dare say on average we contribute. I know several Mint user who contribute zero, nada, nothing so there is that. This fabulous OS does not get developed and maintained without a cost. To keep the Mint project alive and robust it needs donations - and maybe even a corporate sponsor or two. So it is not a matter of having a corporate sponsor but rather what the trade off is for that sponsorship (read $$$$). If PIA donates significant $$$ to help the Mint project and in return their user interface is made available in the repositories and meets the same standards for security and privacy as the rest of the software in the repositories I don't see that as a threat and certainly not unethical or immoral. Mint is up front that PIA is a sponsor and does not load PIA software by default, certainly not like I remember MS doing back eons ago when I had to use Windows. I don't even recall ever seeing Mint recommend PIA over other VPNs other than to mention they are a partner/sponser. No Mint user is tricked or coerced or in any way made to use the PIA VPN or become a paying PIA customer but we all benefit from PIA's generous donations - don't we? So in the end I think Clem and the Mint project are handling the PIA sponsorship openly, honestly and without fault.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by Portreve »

absque fenestris wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 4:51 pm
Do you trust your OS?
Do you trust your IoT devices?
Do you trust your ISP?
Do you trust your browser?
Do you trust your email client?
Do you trust your router(s)?
Do you trust your bank?
Do you social media?
Do you trust your software souces?
Do you trust on-line commerce?


... öhhm - No !
Hey, folks, y'know, if you don't trust your OS — or, by extension, the folks producing your OS — then does the rest of it really matter at that point?

Paranoia never did anyone any favors.
Your humble Portreve.

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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by absque fenestris »

Do you trust your OS? Exception: Penguin on the Gnu's back
Do you trust your IoT devices?
Do you trust your ISP?
Do you trust your browser? Not in delivery state
Do you trust your email client?
Do you trust your router(s)?
Do you trust your bank?
Do you social media?
Do you trust your software sources? Depends...
Do you trust on-line commerce?
Do you trust Mr. Raymond Hill? Yes

Otherwise a general No!
Last edited by absque fenestris on Tue Dec 17, 2019 10:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by majpooper »

Portreve wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 8:14 pm
absque fenestris wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 4:51 pm
Do you trust your OS?
Do you trust your IoT devices?
Do you trust your ISP?
Do you trust your browser?
Do you trust your email client?
Do you trust your router(s)?
Do you trust your bank?
Do you social media?
Do you trust your software souces?
Do you trust on-line commerce?


... öhhm - No !
Hey, folks, y'know, if you don't trust your OS — or, by extension, the folks producing your OS — then does the rest of it really matter at that point?

Paranoia never did anyone any favors.
The point being you in effect end up to some degree trusting all those things - oh sure you can mitigate the risk a little or even a lot but not completely on any of the entities I listed. Sure I trust Mint but it is "blind trust" to a great extent based on reputation and user experience more so than my actual eyes on knowledge.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by Pierre »

if you wanted to be pedantic about any Corporate Entity, then you wouldn't use any of them,
as almost all of them, from an Australian point-of-view - - are an Foreign Company.
& None of them could be trusted .. all of them, would not be terribly interested in any Customer Service,
over and above collecting your payment .. if you have any issues with their product / service .. they won't help you.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by absque fenestris »

Trust in corporations that are beyond all control is something you can do. But you shouldn't.
You can already hope...

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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by absque fenestris »

...and soon it's Christmas; littles for little ones

https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/Hardware
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by jameskga »

I would like to make my position a little more clear. I do not care what PIA does with their software. That is their business. My only point of contention is that their donations to Mint should not influence choices made in the design of Software Manager (namely, to put PIA on the frontpage, many times in large words at the top Featured position).

PIA is featured on the Software Manager, why? Because they are the best? Or is it because they donated money to the project? It is a tall coincidence, no? It feels inappropriate at this point to call PIA's money a donation if/when they got something for it. That's not a charitable donation. That looks like a side deal.

When I first noticed it, I hoped it was not, because if I am being honest, it left me with kind of a bad feeling. I want Mint to be this pure thing, not tainted with side deals to preferred contributors. Seeing giant panels promoting PIA in the Software Manager felt contrary to the spirit of Clem's promise not to make choices based on who donates what, regardless of the size of their donation. It made me feel bad to see a project I have so much respect for - a project built on raw integrity, as Mint has been - I felt bad seeing them do something so cheap and transparent looking. It was just tacky.

I have no problem with Mint accepting money from PIA, as long as it does not influence the project in any form, whatsoever. If PIA wants to mess up their software and create crappy VPN service, that's on them. Maybe that would be a good enough reason to stop featuring them on the Software Manager. To me, that seems like justice enough.

Then let's leave it alone. And for god's sake, yes, keep taking their money!
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by DAMIEN1307 »

Hi James, its pretty much the same way that non-profit radio stations work in the U.S,,,what they do is have what they call "underwriters" rather than call them "advertisers" that "contribute" money to these non-profit stations to keep them afloat serving the public interest in a particular area they serve...The perfectly legal and expected "quid quo pro" is for the broadcaster to give them honourable mention during their broadcasts on a periodic basis.

As far as im concerned, its still advertising, or endorsing their product, but then again, what do i know...to me its just splitting legal hairs of interpretation is all.

As long as we all realise that in order for Clem and Company to continue to provide a quality Linux distro, This is how it has to be as long as the "product" is not obligated to be included in the distro, I think its alright, and as far as it showing up in the thanks list or featured in the software manager as sponsors/"underwriters", as with anything else in the Linux world, we do our due research and diligence before installing any product into our systems...DAMIEN
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by Pierre »

DAMIEN1307 wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:20 am
Hi James, its pretty much the same way that non-profit radio stations work in the U.S,,,what they do is have what they call "underwriters" rather than call them "advertisers" that "contribute" money to these non-profit stations to keep them afloat serving the public interest in a particular area they serve...The perfectly legal and expected "quid quo pro" is for the broadcaster to give them honourable mention during their broadcasts on a periodic basis.
those non-profit radio stations, here in AU - - are called "partners" who support "our objectives".
:?
like the 'Seniors Radio' OR the 'Christian Radio' - station.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by DAMIEN1307 »

EXACTLY...
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by Moem »

jameskga wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 5:16 am
I would like to make my position a little more clear. I do not care what PIA does with their software. That is their business. My only point of contention is that their donations to Mint should not influence choices made in the design of Software Manager (namely, to put PIA on the frontpage, many times in large words at the top Featured position).

PIA is featured on the Software Manager, why? Because they are the best? Or is it because they donated money to the project? It is a tall coincidence, no? It feels inappropriate at this point to call PIA's money a donation if/when they got something for it. That's not a charitable donation. That looks like a side deal.
It's not called a donation anywhere that I've seen. It's called a sponsorship. And that is exactly the difference: if you donate, you cannot expect anything in return. If you sponsor, you can expect a previously agreed upon reward, often in the form of publicity.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by Kirara »

Thank you for bringing this up gene0915.
And thank you jameskga for your thoughts. They are very well put.

While I fully understand the need for sponsors, things are getting complicated when it comes to trust and privacy.

I somewhat feel reminded to what's going on with startpage.com.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by jameskga »

Wouldn’t it be rad if Red Bull sponsored Mint? and we saw Red Bull over it like it was NASCAR.
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Re: Controversy surrounding Mint sponsor, Private Internet Access

Post by gene0915 »

Kirara wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 2:34 pm
Thank you for bringing this up gene0915.
And thank you jameskga for your thoughts. They are very well put.

While I fully understand the need for sponsors, things are getting complicated when it comes to trust and privacy.

I somewhat feel reminded to what's going on with startpage.com.
This is right up there with .org selling out to a private equity firm: https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/13/209 ... os-capital ............ but maybe we're getting too far down the rabbit hole? :)

For me, I just got done downloading Mint 19.3 and will soon upgrade my media server and backup server to this version. Clem and the Mint folks have my complete and full trust. If I think Mint starts to wonder down the wrong path with things, I'll switch to another distro but so long as they stay open and honest, they'll keep me as a happy and loyal customer.
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