You Are Not The Product

A reminder about our stance on advertising and tracking

Photo by Wojtek Witkowski — https://unsplash.com/photos/h7rOzTmGxWE

By now, you may have read the open letter from Unroll.me CEO Jojo Hedaya regarding the monetization of their users’ data and what many feel is a violation of their privacy. People are tired of feeling like products and the steady growth of Mastodon shows that people are tired of being sold to. The refocusing of Open Source software giant Canonical might lead some to question how a consumer-focused company can stay afloat. So, I think it’s the perfect time to restate our commitment not to use advertisements or user data to make money and to stay focused on the desktop.

No Ads.

When companies choose to make money on advertising, they must prioritize clicks on those ads. That means prime screen real-estate dedicated to advertising instead of functionality. It means interrupting your work or play to show you an ad. Or worse, it means disguising advertising as “sponsored content” in search results or with your home page in a browser or with pre-installed apps. Ad-based revenue models are always a conflict of interest and we don’t participate in them.

No Spying.

We believe in your right to privacy and since we use elementary OS ourselves, we’re motivated to protect our own privacy as well. When you purchase elementary OS, your email address is only used to send you a receipt. It is never stored on our servers and we don’t put you on a mailing list. Our website honors “Do Not Track” and we have a very clear privacy policy that includes anything that could be considered tracking and directions for disabling cookies in many popular web browsers. When people ask us how many people use elementary OS, we tell them “We don’t know”, because there is no telemetry sent from elementary OS, anonymized or not. When you type a search in the applications menu, it is never sent to a server; All of its relevance logic is local to your computer and can be cleared at any time in System Settings → Security & Privacy. Just to be double sure, you can always see for yourself since the source code for both elementary OS and our website is Open Source.

No Outside Influences.

We know that we can keep these commitments because we’re not beholden to any outside investors or benefactors. We don’t take loans. We’re not looking to be purchased by a larger company. Our business is fully bootstrapped and self-sustaining. We’re not struggling to shove a business model into a product after the fact and we haven’t set ourselves up to have to make that pivot in the future. elementary doesn’t build a server OS. We’re not pursuing IoT devices. We don’t do contracting work for governments or corporations. There are no outside distractions or influences pushing elementary away from our focus on the desktop and the people who use it.

Focused on People.

We only build a consumer-grade operating system for regular folks and you are our only customers. When we do business, we do it between us and our users. We want to build a company and a product that we’re proud of. We strongly believe that a pay-what-you-want model in combination with voluntary subscriptions like Patreon is vastly preferable to the business models that other tech companies are currently pursuing and we will always strive to avoid business models that come into conflict with the well-being of our users.


We’d like to say thanks again to our supporters on Bountysource and Patreon, those who’ve purchased a copy of elementary OS or merch from our store. Every contribution helps make all of this possible, and we wouldn’t be here without you! If you’d like to help improve elementary OS, don’t hesitate to Get Involved!