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Audacity facing scrutiny after new privacy policy allows data collection, makes app 13+

Audacity's place in schools may be challenged by this new privacy policy. (Source: Audacity)
Audacity's place in schools may be challenged by this new privacy policy. (Source: Audacity)
Audacity users were enraged by privacy policy changes made by the software's new owner, Muse Group. These changes both damage Audacity's reputation (and chances of further distribution) in the FOSS community and may violate the GPL licenses the software is licensed under.

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Muse Group (the owners of MuseScore and Ultimate Guitar) recently acquired Audacity in early May. On July 2nd, a new privacy policy for the app was posted to the app's website. Audacity did not previously have any sort of privacy policy in place for the app on their website, so there is no prior archived version of this page before its original publishing on July 2nd.

Much of this new privacy policy is harmless and, realistically, only exists for protecting the interests of Muse Group in any instance of legal trouble. However, users are frustrated over some of the choices made in this document.

Notably, the privacy policy includes the following: "The App we provide is not intended for individuals below the age of 13. If you are under 13 years old, please do not use the App." This effectively prevents educators from using Audacity (or at least any newer versions) in classes or labs if their students are under 13. Many have also noted that this violates the GPLv2 ("The act of running the Program is not restricted") and GPLv3 ("This License explicitly affirms your unlimited permission to run the unmodified Program.") licenses that the software is licensed under.

In addition to the concerns raised by educators, the privacy policy seems to imply that if contacted by law enforcement, there is no limitation on what data they may collect. From the policy itself under the "Personal data we collect" column: "Data necessary for law enforcement, litigation and authorities’ requests (if any)." It's unlikely Muse Group would have the capability to collect any data indiscriminately like this, but the concern arisen here is more than valid.

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Loki Rautio
Loki Rautio - Tech Writer - 21 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2019
When I was 9, I tried to modify a PC game. The mod I made worked (mostly) and sparked my current, intense interest in software development. A few years later, that interest led me to experiment with all kinds of tech around the house, which has ultimately given me an eye for small, but substantial, problems in devices and software. I'm now writing articles about technology and its nuances for Notebookcheck.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 07 > Audacity facing scrutiny after new privacy policy allows data collection, makes app 13+
Loki Rautio, 2021-07- 6 (Update: 2021-07- 6)