05.07.21

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The Audacity Takeover by Muse Group is No Cause for Celebration

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 6:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Audacity is now part of an entity called Muse Group and if it doesn’t take or suck freedom out of Audacity, it will certainly deny users rather basic concepts (or anticipation) of privacy

A WEEK ago I installed Audacity for the first time in ages (I had installed it several times before). I was so pleased by its progress and the stability (it was always rock-solid and it still is), so I decided to recommend it the same day we recorded a show — first episode in six years.

“It certainly seems like the new buyer is in a hurry to ‘monetise’ the Free software, even at the expense of users’ privacy/freedom.”The following day I was disappointed to learn about the unfortunately-timed sale of the project, as covered by the media since Monday [1, 2, 3, 4] (in chronological order of publication and also order of appearance in this video).

I didn’t think it was a big deal until earlier today. As Alex put it (at the #techrights IRC channel): “less than a week since muse acquisition, audacity adds telemetry (universal google analytics), disguised as “anonymous analytics and crash reports” (as if data passage is their new business model or something). Is this another Mozilla? The company that collects a lot of data from Firefox users and sends such data to Google (for the most part)?

To show what’s posted in a Microsoft site (screenshot below to reduce traffic to it), notice how many votes point downwards:

Audacity Yandex
Audacity development already spied on by Microsoft and NSA (PRISM), so why not add Google/Yandex to the software itself?

Alex has found a meme about it (shared in IRC a a few hours ago):

Audacity and Google

Yes, that sums it up perfectly. Anyway, in the video above I go through some recent events, my personal views/perspective, and reports of the sale. It certainly seems like the new buyer is in a hurry to ‘monetise’ the Free software, even at the expense of users’ privacy/freedom. It seems like a data ‘monetisation’ firm [1, 2] paid for the users (to be data-mined).

Wikipedia says “Muse Group is a parent company, formed in April 2021, that owns a number of websites and programs including Ultimate Guitar, MuseScore, and Audacity.” So it’s only a month old and thus very little is known about its intentions/motivations. As Psydroid put it in IRC a few moments ago, “what we are witnessing is that major free software projects other than GNU, the Linux kernel and GNOME are getting the EEE treatment; well done, guys and girls…”

This is not good software design:

4162be324051d56ac334b588931c50b019844da59e56a2fc4318e355bf36e91e

Is there a fork in the making? Seems possible. Below we have a joke about how such telemetry may be misused. Not just in theory but in practice…

Google spying

Google already knows who you are and where you are:

Google harvesting

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