Audacity branded 'possible spyware' after controversial privacy policy update

Audacity

Popular open source audio editor Audacity has become rather more familiar with controversy recently than it is probably comfortable with. Concerns built up following the software's acquisition by Muse Group and subsequent changes to telemetry and privacy settings. With the latest changes to its privacy policy page, the controversy continues.

Having already faced a fierce backlash and backing down a little in its plans, Audacity now finds itself hit with the label of "possible spyware" by an independent publisher covering open source software. FOSS Post even advises users to uninstall Audacity as soon as possible.

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In the policy update -- which was posted to little fanfare on Friday -- the Audacity team sets out the personal information it collects from users, and explains why. Falling under the heading of data collected "for legal enforcement" is "data necessary for law enforcement, litigation and authorities’ requests (if any)". The Russian company behind things justifies this collection and data processing for the "legitimate interest of WSM Group to defend its legal rights and interests".

But more controversial are the "app analytics" collected in the name of "improving our app". Falling into this category is quite a lot of personal data:

• OS version
• User country based on IP address
• OS name and version
• CPU
• Non-fatal error codes and messages (i.e. project failed to open)
• Crash reports in Breakpad MiniDump format

The privacy document also points out that:

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.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of this has gone down well with Audacity users, and there has been a vocal backlash once again on social media, causing FOSS Post to tell people to uninstall the software, while on  GitHub and Reddit there are renewed calls to create a forked version of the software.

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