Audio Editing Software Audacity Labelled as Spyware

Published · Jul 15, 2021

A well-known piece of open-source editing software, Audacity, has been labeled as potential spyware. This follows changes to the company’s privacy policy that has users concerned.

Audacity’s updated privacy policy page has revealed that the software is collecting data on its users.

It explicitly states that info, such as people’s OS name and version, country, based on IP address, as well as crash reports and error codes, are being collected. All this, for the purpose of analytics and improving performance.

Its next section is decidedly vaguer. It mentions that it also collects any data necessary for law enforcement, litigation, or requests by authorities.

It goes on to clarify who it shares user data with—Audacity staff members, law enforcement bodies, regulatory and government bodies, courts, and other third parties whenever Audacity believes disclosure is necessary.

The Acquisition of Open Source Software

Open source enthusiasts are not known for their love of being monitored and having their data commodified. They often opt for solutions like Linux and other open-source offerings because of the freedom they provide from corporate influence and customization.

It’s no surprise then that Audacity’s acquisition by Muse Group already put many users on edge. The updated privacy policy was the last straw, with many in the open-source community working on forks of the software to get away from corporate interference.

Audacity’s policy stipulates that all data is held on its cloud servers in the European Economic Zone, while it “may” be required to send data to its office in Russia and its counsel in the United States.

In response to the outcry, the Audacity developers released a statement saying the privacy policy had been “misunderstood” due to the wording.

Basic info collection is opt-in, while IP address gleaning auto-updates are opt-out. Although a rewrite of the policy for clarity is promised, this has done little to allay users’ concerns.

The commodification of data is an increasing concern for many net citizens, whether because it opens them up to exploitation by rogue elements or because they’re simply anxious about having too much personal info online.

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.