Image: Audacity

Audacity is an extremely popular open-source audio editor that is relatively powerful despite being free to use. Many users have considered uninstalling the versatile desktop app after noticing big changes to its privacy notice, however. As confirmed on Audacity’s official website, the program will now collect key system information (e.g., OS version, IP address, CPU) for purposes that include app analytics/improvement and legal enforcement. UK publication The Independent has pointed out that Audacity’s new terms and conditions will allow the team behind Audacity, whose main office is located in Russia, to sell user data to third-party companies. The latest version of Audacity (3.0.2) was released on April 19, 2021.

Image: Audacity

For “a calendar day,” IP addresses will be “stored in an identifiable way” before being hashed or made anonymous; however, an unencrypted address could be a pathway to finding a users’ name, phone number, and address, the geolocation of the computer, and in some cases further personal characteristics including “political inclinations, state of health, sexuality, [and] religious sentiments,” according to a study conducted in 2013 by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Sources: Audacity, The Independent

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7 Comments

  1. What the actual fuck?

    So Open Source projects are going to start doing this shit now too?

    We really need regulation to completely ban any and all collection and use of user data, consequences to industry be damned,

  2. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 37242, member: 203″]
    So Open Source projects are going to start doing this **** now too?
    [/QUOTE]
    They have been doing it for some time – Ubuntu got in trouble some years ago, and Canonical isn’t Russian, but [I]British[/I] (for those that don’t know that, I’m sure that you do Z).

    I’d say that that’s a problem that no user is going to be able to avoid. Yeah, closed-source software is much harder to audit, but auditing open-source software is still a fairly insurmountable challenge for most users. And this was just Audacity pulling this stunt the [I]legal[/I] way.

    [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 37242, member: 203″]
    We really need regulation to completely ban any and all collection and use of user data, consequences to industry be damned,
    [/QUOTE]
    Those consequences include making it very difficult for companies to see how their software is being used and not used in an automated manner. Much as I also dislike the idea of software phoning home, I do enjoy software that has been iterated toward a more useful state.

    I’ve seen software that has put in a ‘hey we collect some stuff here’s where you turn it off’ message, and I figure that’s probably the best way to do this so long as the collection is not invasive and can truly be turned off.

    As far as companies putting in license terms that include being able to collect and sell invasive information, well, at least they’re being honest about it, but on the other hand, this is something that needs to be advertised and better yet, also something that can be opted out of.

  3. [QUOTE=”LazyGamer, post: 37244, member: 1367″]
    They have been doing it for some time – Ubuntu got in trouble some years ago, and Canonical isn’t Russian, but [I]British[/I] (for those that don’t know that, I’m sure that you do Z).[/quote]

    I could have sworn they were South African, but OK. My memory is hazy on this issue.

    As I recall there was a huge outcry about Ubuntu, which I agree with, but Ubuntu was really just using it for development and troubleshooting purposes, as I recall.

    [QUOTE=”LazyGamer, post: 37244, member: 1367″]
    Those consequences include making it very difficult for companies to see how their software is being used and not used in an automated manner. Much as I also dislike the idea of software phoning home, I do enjoy software that has been iterated toward a more useful state.

    I’ve seen software that has put in a ‘hey we collect some stuff here’s where you turn it off’ message, and I figure that’s probably the best way to do this so long as the collection is not invasive and can truly be turned off.

    As far as companies putting in license terms that include being able to collect and sell invasive information, well, at least they’re being honest about it, but on the other hand, this is something that needs to be advertised and better yet, also something that can be opted out of.
    [/QUOTE]

    Look, if a company can ensure collected data is truly fully anonymous and only ever utilized for trouble-shooting purposes, I am less concerned, but even so, I still have concerns.

    That is very much not the intent of this project though. From the article:

    [quote=The Independent]
    Audacity will share this personal data with its staff and law enforcement and government agents, or “other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary” as well as “potential buyer …[/quote]

    All of that said, the software industry managed to develop software that worked and did what people wanted before the Internet era. I’m sure having access to that type of information makes developers lives easier, but at what societal cost?

    I’m totally in a draconian “burn everything down” mode over this. I’d totally end the entire digital advertising, social media and cloud infrastructure industsries by force if necessary. We are at a stage of this that it would seem can only be solved by revolution.

  4. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 37242, member: 203″]
    What the actual ****?

    So Open Source projects are going to start doing this **** now too?

    We really need regulation to completely ban any and all collection and use of user data, consequences to industry be damned,
    [/QUOTE]

    Not Open Source in general so much as open source projects that get bought out…

    [URL unfurl=”true”]https://www.musicradar.com/news/ultimate-guitar-owner-music-group-acquires-audacity-pledging-to-keep-it-free-and-open-source[/URL]

    Unfortunately, Ultimate Guitar was the same company that basically said they owned the copyrights of all sheet music on MuseScore… including submitted content in which people wrote themselves.

    They’re scum.

    Audacity will be forked and Ultimate Guitar will be irrelevant when it comes to this project.

  5. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 37247, member: 203″]
    All of that said, the software industry managed to develop software that worked and did what people wanted before the Internet era. I’m sure having access to that type of information makes developers lives easier, but at what societal cost?
    [/QUOTE]
    I’m not even sure that is true. I mean collecting usage data is one thing, but understanding it is more important. You can see what people do in your software, but you don’t know why they do certain things, and the why is much more important than the what in developing more user friendly software. It is very easy to misconstrue user intentions.

    I say if their goal is really improving the software then the classic questionnaire / survey works best. But of course we all know what indiscriminate data collection is about. Hint: Not improving the user experience.

  6. [QUOTE=”s3thra, post: 37264, member: 228″]
    Looks like the community has forked it now:
    [URL unfurl=”true”]https://github.com/temporary-audacity/audacity[/URL]
    [/QUOTE]
    I love when the community solves a problem.

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