The policy changes are related to machine learning algorithms, says Evernote, which are being tested on user content that the company has accumulated since going into operation. Specifically, Evernote explained that staff may need to read customer notes in order to ensure the algorithms are working as they should.
Evernote says that only a limited number of employees who have undergone background checks will be able to access note content and that users can encrypt notes to prevent staff from reading them.
But while users can opt out of having their notes reviewed for machine learning purposes, Evernote can still access content for other reasons, including violations of terms of service, to protect the rights, property, or personal safety of Evernote and its users, or to comply with law enforcement requests, warrants, or court orders.
Update: Evernote CEO Chris O'Neill has shared a note to further address and clarify the changes. He said Evernote employees may see "random content" to ensure its machine learning algorithms are working properly, but "they won't know who it belongs to." Moreover, if any personal information is identified, it "will mask it from the employee."
If you choose to participate in these experimental features, you’ll enjoy a more personalized experience. Select Evernote employees may see random content to ensure the features are working properly but they won’t know who it belongs to. They’ll only see the snippet they’re checking. Not only that, but if a machine identifies any personal information, it will mask it from the employee.
O'Neill said Evernote remains committed to its Three Laws of Data Protection.