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Audacity owner Muse Group responds to ‘spyware’ claims regarding the free and open-source audio editor

Audacity 3
(Image credit: Audacity)

Muse Group, the owner of the free and open-source audio editor Audacity, has sought to clarify the terms of its updated privacy policy, which has led to claims that the software is now possible ‘spyware’.

Audacity was acquired by Ultimate Guitar creator Muse Group earlier this year, with the new owner pledging to improve its feature set while retaining its free and open-source status.

However, eyebrows were quickly raised when the company updated its Contributor License Agreement (CLA), which some in the Audacity community felt ran contrary to the values of the open-source ecosystem. Contributors were told that they needed to sign this in order to remain part of the Audacity project.

The new privacy policy has caused similar anger, with new data collection mechanisms sparking calls for people to uninstall the software and support the campaign to ‘fork’ Audacity. This would basically mean a new version of the software, created under open-source rules, but without the data collection.

Muse Group has now responded to these concerns, stating that they’re “due largely to unclear phrasing in the Privacy Policy”. It says that no data will be shared with third parties (“full-stop”) and that only very basic data - IP address, system info (OS and CPU type) and error reports - will be collected.

Muse says that it does not collect any data beyond this for any purpose, including passing on to any government or law enforcement agency. What’s more, it says that data will only be shared if a court compels it, and that IP addresses are only held for 24 hours.

The privacy policy was updated, Muse says, because of new features being introduced in the next version of Audacity (3.03). These include automatic updating and error reporting, both of which require the aforementioned ‘personal data’ to work.

Furthermore, we’re assured that the current version (3.02) does not collect any data, and that the new privacy policy does not apply to offline use of Audacity.

Muse Group says that it’s currently working with its legal team to revise its privacy policy to more clearly communicate what kind of data it will be collecting and why.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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