Audacity will now collect and share personal data under new ownership

Humza

Posts: 883   +162
Staff member
The audacity: Acquisitions often make or break businesses, and it appears to be troubling times ahead for Audacity. The go-to free and open-source audio editing software for over 21 years may have just become spyware. Although the Muse Group, Audacity's new owner, has committed to keeping the software free and open-source, a recent update in the app's privacy policy has raised concerns among its userbase. Essentially, Audacity will now collect personal user data, which may be shared with third parties for business and legal reasons, as well as law enforcement agencies.

Audacity's simple, functional interface and powerful audio manipulating capabilities have long made it a favorite among newbie and expert users, especially since it's free and has been continuously worked on and improved by the open-source community for over two decades.

While all these attributes are likely to remain as is under Muse Group, the music firm that acquired Audacity in April, what’s raised concern is an updated privacy policy that will now let the software collect and share personal data.

As reported by FOSS Post, the addition of several data collection mechanisms turn Audacity into possible spyware, as personal information (see below) can now be shared with law enforcement agencies, regulatory bodies and other third parties including advisors, auditors, potential buyers etc.

Audacity's privacy notice also states that users' personal data is stored on servers in the European Economic Area (EEA), and that this data will be occasionally shared with the company's main office in Russia and external counsel in the US.

Currently, there's no way to opt-out of this new policy, which restricts minors (13 years and below) from using the app. Audacity's controversial telemetry requirements are also being discussed on GitHub and Reddit, where users are now looking forward to potential forked versions that aren't into tracking user data, especially since the app has always been an offline audio editor.

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Dimitriid

Posts: 955   +1,767
Audacity is open source so all people need to do is just not update under any circumstances: the new company can't retroactively close the source, legally speaking.

They also cannot stop anybody from making a fork so expect the community to just release the same source code from Audacity under a different name.
 

rrwards

Posts: 195   +344
Audacity is open source so all people need to do is just not update under any circumstances: the new company can't retroactively close the source, legally speaking.

They also cannot stop anybody from making a fork so expect the community to just release the same source code from Audacity under a different name.

Definitely already forked several times lol. Here's one that seems to be popular:
https://github.com/temporary-audacity/audacity
 

arrowflash

Posts: 460   +498
I thought they had changed their minds and backed down from adding spyware?

Anyways it's open source so let's hope someone forks it.
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 2,403   +1,999
Lol sounds like they are trying to kill their userbase. Since this is open source the community will fix this.

Also one can probably easily block the app with a firewall from communicating externally.
 
Definitely already forked several times lol. Here's one that seems to be popular:
https://github.com/temporary-audacity/audacity



Seems that this fork was made because people saw the early attempts to violate privacy.

Code:
Why did this project fork audacity/audacity?

You can find more information on the causes of the fork here:


    *Privacy policy which may violate the original project's GPL license

    *Contributer's License Agreement (CLA) which may violate the same GPL license

    *Attempts at adding telemetry using Google services for data collection
 

captaincranky

Posts: 17,211   +5,965
Gosh, I hope nobody breaks into my house and plugs the air gapped machine on which I have Audacity installed, and plugs it into the internet.. :eek: 🤣
 

Danny101

Posts: 1,837   +790
Just create a VM and sandbox it, I have VMs and run programs in the VM I don't want to have access to my real PC. It may run slower but you can better protect your privacy.
It shouldn't have to run slower anymore, or not so much, with new CPU virtual extensions.
 

Danny101

Posts: 1,837   +790
My take is always allow options. Like for example with Windows 10 with forced updates. For people who are not technically savvy, automatic updates and some telemetry is usually a good thing. Like most of my family. It reduces my headaches. Power users who are willing to assume the risks, should be able to. Forced compliance is as it's always been viewed. Tyrannical.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 17,211   +5,965
OK, when you buy even the cheapest of Berhinger recording gear, you get not only Audacity, but a plethora of plug-in as well. (For what reason, as nobody else had them), Sweetwater Sound received a huge order of pedals and whatnot from them. I scored a phono to USB preamp, with mag phono cartridge capability, for $19.00, along with the free suite of software..(Regular $28.00)

But if you get to the point where you need a pro level DAW, there's always "Reaper" https://www.reaper.fm This software is only $60.00 for a version that can (ostensibly), only be used for home projects. This has been striking fear into the "Pro Tools", ($600.00) publishers for years.

Going back to off topic, the only thing Berhinger didn't include in the way of plug-ins, was the one I wanted most, an expander..

I could have used it to restore the dynamic range of vinyl records, to make them sound more like CDs, which have at least 20 db of dynamic range beyond vinyl records.

Any of you wannabe nouveau vinyl snobs in the audience should have a look at this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization

It pretty much explains why vinyl records, aren't all that you might hope for.

BTW, as of now, you can't even download Audacity at Source Forge. All that remains is the placeholder page, and a link to its new home page.
 
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Markoni35

Posts: 1,234   +507
They've added Google telemetry? Of all the possible things they could have added, they've added stuff from Google, the #1 global spying network. That's very interesting. It would also be interesting to see bank accounts of people who made the decision. Would it contain an item named "Payment from Google"?