Audacity Gets Updated Privacy Policy To Address Spyware Concerns

Audacity Gets Updated Privacy Policy To Address Spyware Concerns

The Audacity Team has announced that they’ve updated the Privacy Policy for Audacity to address spyware concerns raised by previous updates.

They note:

“We are introducing a revised privacy policy to address the concerns raised with the previous privacy policy published earlier in July.

The original policy, which was drafted in anticipation of the release of Audacity 3.0.3, received a large amount of media attention due to the inclusion of a few key provisions that appeared to some to violate promises we had previously made. We want to address the issues that were raised, give assurances about our intentions, and provide verifiable proof of what information is actually sent from Audacity.

The new privacy policy uses clearer language that we hope will explain our intentions more accurately this time. We are deeply sorry for the significant lapse in communication caused by the original privacy policy document.”

The team has also removed provisions that banned users under the age of 13 from using Audacity.

Here’s a summary of the main changes in the updated Audacity Privacy Policy:

  • Phrasing has been adjusted to remove ambiguity or aid in transparency, in particular that we do not collect any additional information for law enforcement or any other purpose
  • We have explained the purpose of the two networking features, error reporting and update checking
  • We have removed the provision that discourages children under 13 years old from using Audacity
  • We have taken steps to ensure that we never store a full IP address (we now truncate it before hashing or discard it entirely) and have reflected this change in the privacy policy document
  • We have made some changes to how we process error reports to ensure that we never store any potentially identifiable information

For Audacity users that have remaining concerns about the application’s status, a ‘fork’ of the audio editor has been created, Tenacity. Developers that want to contribute can see project info at Github.

Is Audacity Now Spyware? And Why Is It ‘PG-13’?

Is Audacity Now Spyware? And Why Is It ‘PG-13’?

FOSS Post, an independent news site that covers open source software, reports that the popular open source audio software Audacity may now be spyware. They recommend uninstalling the application ASAP.

Audacity was acquired by a company named Muse Group two months ago. According to Foss Post’s report, “While Audacity is nothing more than a desktop program, its developers want to make it phone home with various data taken from users’ machines.”

The report notes:

“The updated privacy policy page (which was uploaded 2 days ago) for Audacity includes a wide range of data collection mechanisms. It states for example that it can hand any user data to state regulators where it is located – which is basically Russia, USA and the EEA zone.

All your personal data is stored on our servers in the European Economic Area (EEA). However, we are occasionally required to share your personal data with our main office in Russia and our external counsel in the USA.

One would not expect an offline desktop application to be collecting such data, phoning-home and then handing that data to governments around the world whenever they see fit. If you want to stay away from such things, then stay away from Audacity.

By doing these suspicious activities, the people behind Audacity and Muse Group have shown their selves to be unworthy of the trust of the open source community, and hence, the software should be abandoned and disposed from Linux distributions’ repositories.”

What The Fork?

The app is also now ‘rated PG-13’, as the privacy policy states that Audacity should not be used by people below the age of 13.

You can read details of the new policy on the Audacity site.

It appears that Muse Group may have updated the privacy policy to be consistent with its other products. But users on Github and Reddit argue that the changes are not only unnecessary and unwelcome, but violate Audacity’s GPL licensing, which states that “The act of running the Program is not restricted.”

As a result of Muse Group’s changes, some are calling for Audacity to be ‘forked’.

Open-source applications can be ‘forked’, which means that anyone can take the Audacity code and create a new version of the app, as long as they abide by the source’s licensing. You can follow the discussions at Github and Reddit.

Update: Muse Groups’s plans appear to be evolving – a May 17 Tech Radar article says that the company reversed their initial plans for data collection, but their Privacy Policy was updated July 2,.

Audacity 3 Now Available For Linux, macOS & Windows

Audacity 3 Now Available For Linux, macOS & Windows

Developers of the free open-source audio editor, Audacity, have released version 3.0.0 for Windows, macOS and Linux.

Audacity 3.0.0 is a major update. Here’s what’s the developers have to say about the new release:

aup3 Project Format

We’ve changed the format in which we save Audacity projects! Previously we saved projects as a sometimes large number of small files, with an ‘.aup’ file to coordinate the lot. This way of doing things is sometimes called ‘pile of files’ storage.

The problem, which happened all too often, was that data files and .aup file parted ways. Users quite reasonably expected the .aup file to contain the entire project. Well, the new .aup3 file does contain the data as well. The technical detail is that we are using an open source database, SQLite3, to store everything in one .aup3 file. That all happens ‘behind the scenes’. SQLite3 is open source, and it is a delight to work with. Nevertheless, this was a huge change, and we decided it was too risky to include many other changes we wanted to make at the same time – so 3.0.0 is almost entirely about this big format change.

Working with .aup3 projects editing audio should, on most machines, be a little faster than before, because there are fewer files being worked on. Finishing and closing a project at the end of working can be quite a lot slower, since there is more to do when a project is closed. We think the trade offs are worth it.

Importantly, note that you can open your older .aup projects in Audacity 3.0.0, where they will be converted to the new .aup3 format.

Label Sounds & Noise Gate

We did have time to improve our ‘Noise Gate’ effect and add a new analyzer, ‘Label Sounds’, that can label sounds and silences. We also made a few small tweaks elsewhere. You can now import and export macros, and there are a couple of new commands for using the last used tool or last used analyzer that you can give shortcuts to.

Bugs fixed

We also fixed over 160 bugs that had been accumulating over the years. This is quite a staggering amount of work. The majority of these bugs were minor problems, easily worked around. Some though were really juicy high priority bugs that would have mattered a lot to the people affected by them. We’re really glad to have these bugs fixed now.”

Audacity 3.0.0 is available now as a free download.