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Audacity has become spyware

Audacity

If you are using the most recent version of Audacity, you should remove it from your system as soon as possible. The new owner is using it as spyware.
Since the Russian Muse Group – also written as MuseGroup – (with a somewhat confusing and verbose .se domain but headquartered in the Russian Federation) has owned Audicity (since May this year), there have been disturbing things going on. Indeed, not only does the popular open source audio editor appear to have become a data collector, but its terms of use have been altered in a nasty way.

For example, Muse Group indicates that it will collect data as soon as the government requests it. Consider that a program like Audacity is widely used by (freelance) journalists and other “undesirables” and you understand why the Russians are extremely interested in such data. Things like IP address, system data and usage statistics can then easily link a computer to a person and a physical address.

Get rid of it

The collected data is not only forwarded to governments, but also to the judiciary, courts of law and third parties, as can be read in the user conditions.

It’s a bad idea and Audacity has now been officially labeled as spyware. Do not download and install it again is the only correct thing to do. If you have a pre-version 3.0 in use that you did not download from the Audacity site after May this year you can continue to use it. Just make sure that the software never gets an update, because then you will be stuck with the same problem. Also be careful when buying audio hardware. Things like record players with USB connection often come with Audacity on a CD-ROM or via a download link. Better not install it now, especially if version and origin are unclear.

Given the fact that Audacity is (still) open source (although its terms of use clearly clash with its terms of use), splits (forks) are to be expected. In part, that process is already underway, but it will be waiting for a popular, regularly maintained stable version that is not under the wing of Muse Group.

For now: if you have downloaded and installed a recent version of Audacity, remove it from your system immediately and then run a thorough virus scan. The image at the top of this article shows the contested 3.0 version in action. Of course, we did not install the software specifically for this purpose, but took the safe route and used a screenshot from Wikipedia..

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