Audacity 3.0 called spyware over data collection changes by new owner

Posted:
in Mac Software edited July 5
Audacity, the well-known open-source audio-editing software, has been called spyware in a report, with privacy policy changes revealing the tool is collecting data on its users and sharing it with other firms, as well as sending the data to Russia.




Audacity was acquired by Muse Group in May, a company that also controls Ultimate Guitar, MuseScore, and Tonebridge. Since the purchase of Audacity, changes have been discovered in online support documents indicating that it is being used to perform data collection on its users.

The privacy policy page for Audacity was updated on June 2, reports Fosspost, with some additions relating to the collection of personal data. Specifically, that the app collects a variety of details relating to the users Mac.

The list of data includes the operating system and version, the user's country based on their IP address, non-fatal error codes and messages, crash reports, and the processor in use. Under data collected "for legal enforcement," the software collects "data necessary for law enforcement, litigation, and authorities' requests (if any)," though no specifically what data is collected in such cases.

IP addresses are stored "in an identifiable way only for a calendar day," stored as a hash with a daily-changed salt. The hash is stored for one year before deletion, though the company also claims the salt "is not stored on any database and cannot be retrieved after it has been changed."

It is claimed the one day of storage is enough for a government entity to identify a user, with sufficient resources and legal authority.

The data is said to be stored within the European Economic Area, though the language of the policy also mentions that the company is "occasionally required to share your personal data with our main office in Russia and our external counsel in the USA."

The personal data may also be shared with a long list of entities, including "advisors" and "potential buyers," as well as law enforcement bodies, regulators, courts, and other third parties.

While previously the app was available for all ages to use, as per the GPL license, the privacy policy also includes language that says people under 13 years old to "please do not use the app." This is considered a violation of the GPL license that Audacity is released under.

Conversations on both Reddit and GitHub have include talk of a fork of Audacity into a new project, in a bid to eliminate it of the data collection and licensing alterations.

While the privacy policy changes have caught the most attention, it seems that performing data collection has been a plan of the company since its purchase. On May 4, a GitHub update revealed the app was supposed to include opt-in anonymous analytics data collection, handled through Google and Yandex, with the developers stressing it was "strictly optional and disabled by default."

A later update on May 13 attempted to answer complaints and outcry about the telemetry, including dropping the proposed telemetry features. At the time, it was determined that data collected from error reporting and checks for updates would be self-hosted, taking Google and Yandex analytics out of the loop over perceived trust issues.

AppleInsider has confirmed that the telemetry is still being sent in testing on July 4 and July 5.

Update June 5, 7:25 AM Eastern: Details of earlier telemetry proposals and AppleInsider test results added.

Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast -- and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, "Hey, Siri," to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.If you want an ad-free main AppleInsider Podcast experience, you can support the AppleInsider podcast by subscribing for $5 per month through Apple's Podcasts app, or via Patreon if you prefer any other podcast player.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    ikirikir Posts: 90member
    Pretty sad. Time to delete it!
    Beatschiakillroy
  • Reply 2 of 21
    adybadyb Posts: 198member
    I'm glad that I'm still on version 2.4.1 - one advantage of being on an old MacBook Pro running macOS Catalina - there's no pressure to update!!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 21
    ZirlinZirlin Posts: 13member
    THE AUDACITY!
    BeatsDAalsethCloudTalkinraybokillroychiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 21
    Keep the cash. Fork the code.  Win win. 
    elijahgdarkvaderkillroytwokatmewpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 922member
    Data collection has pretty much ruined software, probably permanently. That’s why I keep my G4 and G5 kicking around. To remember  
    Beatsdarkvaderkillroyboboliciouscincyteewatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 21
    jdwjdw Posts: 959member
    I have long preferred TwistedWave instead.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 21
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,513moderator
    There's a few alternatives listed here:

    https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/best-free-cheap-audio-editors-mac-os-x/

    Ocenaudio looks nice for single track editing and completely free. It has a much better UI than Audacity:

    https://www.ocenaudio.com/features

    It has support for VST plugins for effects - https://freevstplugins.net

    Garageband will work for multiple tracks but usually needs the latest OS. Someone will probably fork Audacity and remove data tracking code if it's been added but the privacy policy might just be worded in a way that looks worse than it is. Most companies will track some kind of stats about their active userbase. The privacy policy for Parallels has similar wording:

    https://www.parallels.com/about/legal/privacy/

    "Data we process if you use our Products:

    Parallels processes Personal Data when you install and register one of our Products. Some of this information will be processed automatically when installing our Products. This includes the following "Product Installation Data":

    • Your browser type;
    • Operating system;
    • IP address;
    • Broad geographical location (i.e. country, city and (where applicable) state);
    • Product name and version;
    • Hardware or machine ID and (for certain products) computer model and name;
    • Your preferred language;
    Although we make every effort to preserve user privacy, we may need to disclose personal information when required by law, such as when we have a good-faith belief that such action is necessary to comply with a current judicial proceeding, a court order, or litigation or other legal process or action (whether or not initiated by Parallels) to protect Parallels’, our users' or third parties' rights, property or safety. We will transmit data to public authorities such as law enforcement or tax authorities only in the case of a legal obligation to do so based on a request for information from the respective authority."
    Alex_Vmuthuk_vanalingamWgkruegerkillroychiapscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 21
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,441member
    Logic welcomes you with open arms.

    Over $2,000 of free plugins and free updates from “greedy Apple”. 
    pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Thanks for the heads-up- deleted.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 21
    DELETED! There, that felt better.
    Next one....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 21
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,304member
    And this is what iOS and iPadOs users will face when side-loading is forced upon Apple. Adware and Spyware will be ram[pant like it is on macOS. Those who claim to be aware enough to avoid it might be okay but the common user will choose to install some cutesy app from god-knows-where and, well, there you have it. It’s probably coming and iOS users will be in the same camp as Android users. Buyer beware.
    danoxBeatskillroycincyteepscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 21
    harry wildharry wild Posts: 752member
    Just like a typical internet spy movie, everything end up going back to Russia! 
    killroy
  • Reply 13 of 21
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 540member
    One of the wonderful things about open source is that this will be forked very shortly.  That community doesn't put up with crap like this.
    DAalsethkillroy
  • Reply 14 of 21
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 641member
    Oh no, someone in Russian has access to data that shows an IP address is connected to a Mac that uses Audacity. All the squawking and screeching but even at its most basic, if you access a website, all kinds of companies collect your data. If you are serious about privacy at that level then get off your phones and disconnect from the internet. Otherwise grow up and accept that this is life now. You can affect it around the edges with Little Snitch and a VPN etc. but you can’t eliminate it and most of you can’t be bothered or inconvenienced even if if you could! 
  • Reply 15 of 21
    CloudTalkinCloudTalkin Posts: 886member
    lkrupp said:
    And this is what iOS and iPadOs users will face when side-loading is forced upon Apple. Adware and Spyware will be ram[pant like it is on macOS. Those who claim to be aware enough to avoid it might be okay but the common user will choose to install some cutesy app from god-knows-where and, well, there you have it. It’s probably coming and iOS users will be in the same camp as Android users. Buyer beware.
    No they won't.  That's silly.  The common user is going to do what they've always done: install apps from the App Store.  It's what almost every common user does; choose the path of least resistance.  That's not a knock against the common user (I consider myself among them), it's simple human nature. That path only leads to the App Store.  It's the same for almost every ecosystem save one: Windows.  iOS users overwhelmingly use the App Store and will continue to do so.  Android users overwhelmingly use the Play Store and they've been able to sideload almost since inception.  Amazon users dl mostly from Amazon.  Chinese users dl from their primary app stores.  

    Mac users may be more inclined to dl outside of the MAS than iOS users outside of the App Store, but I still think the majority of apps are dl'd through it.  Windows is the exception because Windows users typically are more used to downloading from the web instead of an app store, which really wasn't a thing until Win8 in 2012.  No, Windows Marketplace (hahahahahahahahaha) doesn't count.  Wait, where was I?

    Oh yeah, please stop with the FUD.  
    muthuk_vanalingamgatorguy
  • Reply 16 of 21
    JBSloughJBSlough Posts: 77member
    lkrupp said:
    And this is what iOS and iPadOs users will face when side-loading is forced upon Apple. Adware and Spyware will be ram[pant like it is on macOS. Those who claim to be aware enough to avoid it might be okay but the common user will choose to install some cutesy app from god-knows-where and, well, there you have it. It’s probably coming and iOS users will be in the same camp as Android users. Buyer beware.
    No they won't.  That's silly.  The common user is going to do what they've always done: install apps from the App Store.  It's what almost every common user does; choose the path of least resistance.  That's not a knock against the common user (I consider myself among them), it's simple human nature. That path only leads to the App Store.  It's the same for almost every ecosystem save one: Windows.  iOS users overwhelmingly use the App Store and will continue to do so.  Android users overwhelmingly use the Play Store and they've been able to sideload almost since inception.  Amazon users dl mostly from Amazon.  Chinese users dl from their primary app stores.  

    Mac users may be more inclined to dl outside of the MAS than iOS users outside of the App Store, but I still think the majority of apps are dl'd through it.  Windows is the exception because Windows users typically are more used to downloading from the web instead of an app store, which really wasn't a thing until Win8 in 2012.  No, Windows Marketplace (hahahahahahahahaha) doesn't count.  Wait, where was I?

    Oh yeah, please stop with the FUD.  
    I beg to differ. A lot, a real lot, of apps will just opt out of Apple’s App Store. They’re just not going to pay that 30% (or whatever Apple drops that to). They’ll just be a lot less apps in the store, like the Mac App Store. A lot of us will stuck buying out of the store and paying who knows who. With no control over spyware or malware. 
    bonobobpscooter63Detnatorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 21
    CloudTalkinCloudTalkin Posts: 886member
    JBSlough said:
    lkrupp said:
    And this is what iOS and iPadOs users will face when side-loading is forced upon Apple. Adware and Spyware will be ram[pant like it is on macOS. Those who claim to be aware enough to avoid it might be okay but the common user will choose to install some cutesy app from god-knows-where and, well, there you have it. It’s probably coming and iOS users will be in the same camp as Android users. Buyer beware.
    No they won't.  That's silly.  The common user is going to do what they've always done: install apps from the App Store.  It's what almost every common user does; choose the path of least resistance.  That's not a knock against the common user (I consider myself among them), it's simple human nature. That path only leads to the App Store.  It's the same for almost every ecosystem save one: Windows.  iOS users overwhelmingly use the App Store and will continue to do so.  Android users overwhelmingly use the Play Store and they've been able to sideload almost since inception.  Amazon users dl mostly from Amazon.  Chinese users dl from their primary app stores.  

    Mac users may be more inclined to dl outside of the MAS than iOS users outside of the App Store, but I still think the majority of apps are dl'd through it.  Windows is the exception because Windows users typically are more used to downloading from the web instead of an app store, which really wasn't a thing until Win8 in 2012.  No, Windows Marketplace (hahahahahahahahaha) doesn't count.  Wait, where was I?

    Oh yeah, please stop with the FUD.  
    I beg to differ. A lot, a real lot, of apps will just opt out of Apple’s App Store. They’re just not going to pay that 30% (or whatever Apple drops that to). They’ll just be a lot less apps in the store, like the Mac App Store. A lot of us will stuck buying out of the store and paying who knows who. With no control over spyware or malware. 
    A differing opinion is your prerogative.  I think it's wrong, but hey. I mean, what's your frame of reference for thinking there will be some sort of mass exodus? A few big apps would hypothetically opt out of the App Store.  Most apps won't because they are dependent on the traffic generated by the App Store.  Also remember, the vast, vast, vast majority of app devs are small.  So those small devs would only be paying 15% commission until they hit the million dollar threshold. A threshold that most won't ever hit.  There'd be no incentive to leave the App Store because there's no guarantee customers will follow. 

    As I already said, sideloading and alternate app stores ave alway been a reality for Android.  Their impact could generously be called minimal.  More accurately, the impact could be described as near non-existent.  I'm pretty confident it will be the same for the App Store.  
    edited July 5 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 21
    hexclock said:
    Data collection has pretty much ruined software, probably permanently. That’s why I keep my G4 and G5 kicking around. To remember  
    I too have a growing collection of favourite legacy apps running in Snow Leopard Server in Parallels, and a G4 powerbook that is surprisingly fast with an IDE SSD, able to run OS9 in Classic with aplomb...

    A series of disc images from floppies took maybe 10s to install vs what might have taken many minutes chug, chug, chugging away in their day...

    Thankfully one could upgrade the drive, ram, battery... Sigh...
  • Reply 19 of 21
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 790member
    Ars Technica posted an article today that basically calls BS on the original story from FOSSpost.

    Sounds like FOSSpost is reacting to a proposal for a not yet released version. That proposal has been walked back.

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/07/no-open-source-audacity-audio-editor-is-not-spyware/
    bonobobpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 21
    DetnatorDetnator Posts: 158member
    JBSlough said:
    lkrupp said:
    And this is what iOS and iPadOs users will face when side-loading is forced upon Apple. Adware and Spyware will be ram[pant like it is on macOS. Those who claim to be aware enough to avoid it might be okay but the common user will choose to install some cutesy app from god-knows-where and, well, there you have it. It’s probably coming and iOS users will be in the same camp as Android users. Buyer beware.
    No they won't.  That's silly.  The common user is going to do what they've always done: install apps from the App Store.  It's what almost every common user does; choose the path of least resistance.  That's not a knock against the common user (I consider myself among them), it's simple human nature. That path only leads to the App Store.  It's the same for almost every ecosystem save one: Windows.  iOS users overwhelmingly use the App Store and will continue to do so.  Android users overwhelmingly use the Play Store and they've been able to sideload almost since inception.  Amazon users dl mostly from Amazon.  Chinese users dl from their primary app stores.  

    Mac users may be more inclined to dl outside of the MAS than iOS users outside of the App Store, but I still think the majority of apps are dl'd through it.  Windows is the exception because Windows users typically are more used to downloading from the web instead of an app store, which really wasn't a thing until Win8 in 2012.  No, Windows Marketplace (hahahahahahahahaha) doesn't count.  Wait, where was I?

    Oh yeah, please stop with the FUD.  
    I beg to differ. A lot, a real lot, of apps will just opt out of Apple’s App Store. They’re just not going to pay that 30% (or whatever Apple drops that to). They’ll just be a lot less apps in the store, like the Mac App Store. A lot of us will stuck buying out of the store and paying who knows who. With no control over spyware or malware. 
    A differing opinion is your prerogative.  I think it's wrong, but hey. I mean, what's your frame of reference for thinking there will be some sort of mass exodus? A few big apps would hypothetically opt out of the App Store.  Most apps won't because they are dependent on the traffic generated by the App Store.  Also remember, the vast, vast, vast majority of app devs are small.  So those small devs would only be paying 15% commission until they hit the million dollar threshold. A threshold that most won't ever hit.  There'd be no incentive to leave the App Store because there's no guarantee customers will follow. 

    As I already said, sideloading and alternate app stores ave alway been a reality for Android.  Their impact could generously be called minimal.  More accurately, the impact could be described as near non-existent.  I'm pretty confident it will be the same for the App Store.  
    Yes. You and a couple of others here have said this over and over again but you continue to be wrong, for at least some of us. 

    I hate the fact that there are some apps I need on my Mac that I can’t get in the Mac App Store because those devs refuse to use it and force me to use their systems. Adobe for example. I have any number of update checkers running in the background of my Mac. On my iPad and iPhone I have one. And plenty of others here have said the same thing. 

    You can keep spouting this stuff but it doesn’t change the fact that allowing other stores on iOS will TAKE from me my choice (that I exercise by buying iOS devices) to be able to get ALL my apps from one place with one payment system and one update system. 

    How do I know this? Because I do not have that choice on my Mac. And I hate it. I choose iOS over Android for a few reasons but one of the biggest is it gives me that choice. I wish I could have that same choice on my Mac. 

    So please don’t be telling me “the system works fine on the Mac”. No. It doesn’t. It sucks on the Mac. And it’ll suck if Apple is forced to bring that to iOS as well. 

    As a consumer I have that option on iOS because Apple forces it in the developers, for the sake of consumers like me who value that. As a developer I don’t care that Apple forces that on me, because I get how it’s better for consumers and that counts for something (aside from the enormous value the App Store provides me as a developer that I’d never be able to build as good a system for myself, but more importantly I don’t have to think or worry about any of that stuff).

    What do we have to do or say for you and the likes of Sweenie to hear and get that?
    watto_cobra
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