Audacity Audio Editor Becomes “Spyware”

I have used a piece of software called Audacity to edit audio files over the years. But not anyone. I say that because anyone deciding to download the free and open-source audio editor is being warned that the software may now be classified as spyware due to recent updates to its privacy policy:

Audacity has been around for over 21 years and classes as the world’s most popular audio editing software. On April 30, the Muse Group acquired Audacity with the promise that the software would “remain forever free and open source.” However, as FOSS Post reports, last week the Audacity privacy policy page was updated and introduced a number of personal data collection clauses. The data collected includes OS version and name, user country based on IP address, the CPU being used, data related to Audacity error codes and crash reports, and finally “Data necessary for law enforcement, litigation and authorities’ requests (if any).” The personal data collected can be shared with Muse Group employees, auditors, advisors, legal representatives and “similar agents,” potential company buyers, and “any competent law enforcement body, regulatory, government agency, court or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary (i) as a matter of applicable law or regulation, or (ii) to exercise, establish or defend our legal rights.”

This is the textbook definition of spyware. If you have an older version, as in version 2.x, I’d hang on to it. i say that because the product has been forked to take out the spyware bits, seeing as it is open source. But there is a risk that some of the forks will be malware. And that will create a new problem.

A similar thing happened when encryption product called TrueCrypt died. Multiple forks emerged as well as the last known good version of TC. In the end Veracrypt became the preferred, trusted replacement but it took a while and in the meantime there was a lot of uncertainty that was created. I expect something similar to happen here.

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