This issue was brought up by DA in an earlier post, but now more information has emerged with the release of Ubuntu 12.10:
"The first thing you'll notice about the new Dash is that when you search for something, you not only see local files but also Amazon-affiliated advertisements for products. There has been a massive outcry of complaints from the Ubuntu community about this, as well as a bug reports, both serious ("Don't include remote searches in the home lens", "Direct data leaking to Amazon") and tongue in cheek ("grep -R doesn't automatically search amazon", "Spyware coverage incomplete - limited to Dash"). Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, defended the decision to include Amazon ads in Dash:"
"Technically, when you search for something in Dash, your computer makes a secure HTTPS connection to productsearch.ubuntu.com, sending along your search query and your IP address. If it returns Amazon products to display, your computer then insecurely loads the product images from Amazon's server over HTTP. This means that a passive eavesdropper, such as someone sharing a wireless network with you, will be able to get a good idea of what you're searching for on your own computer based on Amazon product images."We are not telling Amazon what you are searching for. Your anonymity is preserved because we handle the query on your behalf. Donít trust us? Erm, we have root. You do trust us with your data already. You trust us not to screw up on your machine with every update. You trust Debian, and you trust a large swathe of the open source community. And most importantly, you trust us to address it when, being human, we err.
But wait, there's more:
"Ubuntu's Third Party Privacy Policies page lists all of the third parties that they may send your search term and IP address to, and states: "For information on how our selected third parties may use your information, please see their privacy policies." In other words, once they give your data away, it's no longer their problem."Unless you have opted out, we will also send your keystrokes as a search term to productsearch.ubuntu.com and selected third parties so that we may complement your search results with online search results from such third parties including: Facebook, Twitter, BBC and Amazon. Canonical and these selected third parties will collect your search terms and use them to provide you with search results while using Ubuntu.
Read the full article at EFF, where they also have instructions on how to disable or remove the ads.
And in Unity, you have to do a lot of typing to find just about everything.