Audacity audio editor has become a spyware

Open-source audio editing software Audacity has become closer to spyware after privacy policy changes revealed that it collects data on its users and shares it with other companies, as well as sends data to Russia. One of the biggest strengths of open source software is its openness which brings other benefits such as freedom of use, security through auditing, flexibility, and more.

This is mostly thanks to the open-source licenses that these programs use. But from time to time people try to make changes that irritate the user community and developers. Sometimes, these changes may be illegal. And that appears to be the fate of Audacity, one of the most popular programs in the open-source world that is now subject to a severely abusive privacy policy.

The uproar started a few months ago when Audacity was bought by the Muse Group, the company behind popular music software such as MuseScore and Ultimate Guitar. Audacity is still open source, as it cannot be changed to proprietary software in its current form. But that doesn't mean that Muse Group can't make some harmful changes.

These changes come in the form of the new Privacy Policy that was updated a few days ago. It is a policy that now allows it to collect user data. Audacity's privacy policy page, which has been around for more than 21 years, was updated on June 2 with some additions related to personal data collection.

As a desktop application without basic online functionality, Audacity did not need to be connected to the Internet. The data list includes the operating system, version, user country based on IP address, messages, error codes, crash reports, and the processor in use.

The privacy policy now states that the new company is collecting data in a comprehensive and opaque way, likely by design. For example, it says it collects data necessary for law enforcement. But it does not specify what type of data is collected. There are also questions regarding the storage of data on servers in the USA, Russia, and the European Economic Area.

IP addresses are stored in a recognizable manner for a day before they are hashed and then stored in servers for a year. The new policy also prohibits people under the age of 13 from using the software, in violation of the GPL used by Audacity. There are now calls to split the program in order to prevent data collection from users who want to edit audio with the free program.

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