The audio editing program Audacity starts collecting user data

Audacity software is a simpler, and free, software for editing audio files. It is open source and is available for Linux, Mac OS and Windows. In May 2021, Audacity was sold to Muse Group, which already owns other audio and music programs such as Tonebridge and Ultimate Guitar.

Shortly after the change of ownership, an attempt was made to introduce optional data collection with the help of Google and Yandex. However, the increase met with great criticism from users and developers eventually chose not to implement the change but instead apologized to users through Audacitys Github-sida where it was all explained as a mistake in communication. Despite previous apologies data collection looks set to continue, according to a new update in the program’s user policy.

According to the policy, which was updated on 2 June, the program can collect users’ IP address, error codes, crash reports and which processor the current system is using. This in itself does not necessarily raise any suspicions, but are relatively common data points used for the purpose of identifying bugs and improving the software. The add-on that raises major concerns in the comments section Github and the Reddit forum is that the software now also collects “data necessary for law enforcement agencies, litigation and authorities” upon request. However, it is not clear exactly what data is collected in such a situation.

2021-07-05 14_28_21-Desktop Privacy Notice _ Audacity ®.png

Users’ IP addresses are stored identifiable in a calendar day, and then stored in hash format for one year before the data is completely deleted. According to Audacity, the data is stored within the EEA, with a few exceptions where data may need to be shared with a head office in Russia or for “external advice” in the United States. Personal data may also be shared with a third party, including what are referred to as “advisors” and “potential buyers”.

The latter in combination with the fact that the policy now does not allow users younger than 13 years again arouses upset feelings in the software’s various communication channels and on forums. Among other things, criticism is leveled at a local software whose purpose does not require an Internet connection reporting users’ IP addresses, and with which parties the data is then shared.

Since Audacity has open source code, it is in theory possible to continue building a separate identical product as a side track, similar to how the word processing program Libre Office arose when Oracle took over Open Office. The idea was raised already at the first incident, but has now flared up again. Audacity managers have not commented on the changes or responded to users at this time.

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Source: SweClockers by www.sweclockers.com.

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