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Audacity causes controversy with newly published Privacy Notice

Audio editing platform Audacity causes controversy with their newly published Privacy Notice in the latest software update version 2.4.

Crowned as one of the leading and favoured podcast audio editing software, Audacity has sent shockwaves to its users with the changes of their new Terms of Service many have questioned their updated and GDPR practises.

An update to the Desktop Privacy Notice was published on the 2nd July 2021 which lists the data that Audacity is collecting as well as the reason for collecting the data, with whom the data is shared and under which circumstances, how the data is protected, and how it is stored and deleted.

The following data is or may be collected by Audacity:

  • App Analytics and App Improvements:
    • 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
  • For legal enforcement
    • Data necessary for law enforcement, litigation and authorities’ requests (if any)
Credit: BBE Podcast Agency

What does Audacity’s new terms of service mean?

The “legal enforcement” data collecting part of the Desktop Privacy Notice is vague, as it does not list the data that Audacity may provide for “law enforcement, litigation and authorities’ requests”. It is unclear why it is not listed. While it is clear that a company does not know which data law enforcement may request, a list of information that Audacity collects or may collect could be listed there.

Another paragraph that is seen as problematic is 7.1 Data storage and transfers of data. Audacity data is stored on servers in the European Economic Area according to the paragraph, but personal data may be shared occasionally with the group’s main office in Russia and the group’s external counsel in the United States.

Many online users suspect the new privacy notice looks like a lighter version of the group’s Musescore privacy policy, but with less data collecting.

audacity privacy notice 2021
Credit: @Chryseus on GitHub.com

How will Audacity news Privacy Notice affect my audio content?

Controversy surrounding the new project owners of Audacity continues. It should be clear by now that any changes made that may affect user privacy are under scrutiny, especially if they are vague or threatens to reduce the privacy of users and their content.

The undefined data that Audacity may collect for law enforcement purposes falls into the category. The transferring of data to Russia or the United States is also problematic from a privacy point of view. It opens up the potential for governments/law enforcers to maintain a ‘big brother’ way of spying on the users.

Which is even more worrying considering Audacity is an offline podcast editing platform. 

Earlier this year, the Canada’s Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault announced the introduction of bill C-10 which owes to regulate the internet, including podcasts. The bill is created as a means to combat online hate which includes a provision that could allow the Canadian federal government to order the deletion of any Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter upload made by a Canadian.

Therefore, it seems as though podcasters may become subject to a form of policing as a result of this new law and Audacity appears to have become spyware with the new privacy notice. What do you think of Audacity’s updated privacy notice?

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