Audio-editing software Audacity’s policy update raises privacy concerns

Audacity was developed by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenburg in 1999 and was released the following year.  

Popular audio-editing software Audacity updated its privacy policy last week, adding a clause that will enable the company to share users’ personal data with their main office in Russia and external counsels in the U.S. The policy also mentions the company may share necessary data with law enforcement, litigation and authorities’ requests when required.

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Several users expressed concerns over the update, calling it a possible “spyware”. “This completely undermines any remnants of trust I might have had for the current Audacity owner, and I’m not going to continue using the software in the current form,” said one user in a GitHub community discussion.

Audacity has been available as an open-source software since 2000, which means the application’s original source code has been made freely available and can be redistributed and modified. Some users said the update could mean the company is inching towards closing the source product and commercialising it, like most applications nowadays. “Muse (parent company) doesn’t seem to be committed to the original goal which is to be a free and open-source audio editor,” another user said on GitHub.

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The app was developed by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenburg in 1999 and was released the following year. It soon became a popular audio recording and editing tool among developers, podcasters, musicians and researchers, with over a 100 million downloads.

Audacity was bought by Cyprus-based Muse Group in April this year, with the assurance the software will remain “forever free and open source”.

Muse Group's head of strategy, Daniel Ray, clarified that the firm will be revising the policy soon.

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“We do understand the unclear phrasing of the privacy policy and lack of context regarding introduction has led to major concerns about how we use and store the very limited data we collect," Ray said in a post on GitHub.

The company also clarified that it collects “limited” data which includes IP address, basic system information, and error reports, and does not share any data to third parties.

The policy update will come into effect in the next version of Audacity, the company noted.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 12:59:14 PM |

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