Audacity will introduce telemetry and... the controversy is served

Original note from: MuyLinux
To read the original in Spanish by J. Pomeyrol, click here

Just a few days ago we picked up the news that Audacity has become part of the Muse Group’s portfolio of solutions. A somewhat strange move, because it is not usual for free software projects without a clear business model behind them to be purchased. However, the agreement is closed, and the development of Audacity is under the direction of Muse Group, which, how could it be otherwise, promised to maintain the application with the same license.

In fact, the Muse Group not only assured that nothing would change with respect to Audacity’s open development model, but also announced that they would work to improve some of the most neglected aspects of the audio editor, such as an interface that has barely evolved in years. . Not even with the recent release of Audacity 3.0 they have addressed this, introducing a new file format as the main novelty that is also generating a lot of rejection among users, despite the improvements that it promised.

The march of Audacity under Muse Group, however, has not started off on the right foot, and one of the first novelties that have been proposed has nothing to do with the advance, but with the introduction of telemetry in the application. Specifically, telemetry that will send data to Google Analytics and Yandex Metrica:

The following will be sent to Google Analytics: session start and end times, errors, what options and resources are used or what file formats are imported and exported, including a unique identification code for each installation.
To Yandex Metrica (for those who do not know, something like Russian Google) will be sent: metrics to "be able to correctly estimate daily active users.”

The developer says that he has proposed this change, and that they use Yandex Metrica because of the tightness of the (free) Google Analytics quotas, so it is understood that if they could they would do everything with Google. Both services also record the user’s IP.

Thus, many users have quickly jumped into the jugular of Muse Group due to the invasion of privacy that this change presents, although as has been assured by the project, it is an option that will be disabled by default. Only if the user voluntarily decides to activate it, the specified telemetry reports will be sent, which is the correct method of proceeding in these cases. But the issue in dispute is not so much this, as the mere fact of introducing telemetry in a free application that in principle does not need it.

In favor of the developers - and against those who say that telemetry has no place in a free application or of the Audacity type - it should be noted that there is a lot of free software that uses telemetry, since it is the best way to collect data that indicate where to focus development efforts: what options do users use most and least? How do they use them? In what team? With what resources? Telemetry is for all of this.

Against the developers … Using Google and Yandex was the worst possible idea according to the scenario and according to some of the more than 500 comments that crowd the thread of the change on GitHub, the proposed code would send more information to both services : “This code is uploading parts of your files saved to Google and Yandex,” someone comments. And yes, there are already those who speak of fork and with more than one suitor to maintain it.

Update: finishing writing this article, there has been an update by the developer expanding the information:

La telemetría es estrictamente opcional y está deshabilitada de forma predeterminada. No se comparten datos a menos que se elija.
La telemetría solo funciona en las compilaciones realizadas por GitHub CI desde el repositorio oficial.
Si se está compilando Audacity desde el código fuente, se proporcionará una opción para habilitar el código de telemetría. Esta opción estará desactivada de forma predeterminada.

And with respect to the object of said telemetry, the following is indicated:

"Why have telemetry?

Basically, it helps us to identify product problems in advance:

Audacity is widely used on various platforms, but we have no information on the stability of the application.
It is difficult for us to accurately estimate the size of the user base.
We need a way to make informed decisions about which OS versions to support. For example, can we increase the minimum version of macOS to 10.10 to update the wxWidgets to the latest version?
We have a known issue with the new file format introduced in Audacity 3.0. We found it with great help from community members on our forum. However, we have no way of estimating the impact of these issues on users. Is it just a random case? Do we need to speed up the work on the recovery tool or help users one by one? Or do we need to rethink the file format to make it more secure and easier to recover?"

Regarding concerns about the choice of suppliers:

"We do not incorporate cross-site tracking, which limits the ability to identify the user by both Google and Yandex.
Yandex would only receive the “open application” event to help us estimate the size of the user base.
Google would only receive: a) session start and end events; b) debugging errors, c) file formats used for import and export, d) OS and Audacity versions, e) use of effects, generators, and analysis tools to prioritize future enhancements
We will consider replacing Google and Yandex with another service if we find one that meets our requirements; thanks for the suggestions and keep coming back."

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