Evernote's New Privacy Policy Lets Staff Read Customers' Notes 'to Improve the Service' [Updated]

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evernoteSome users of Evernote have threatened to stop using the note-taking service after the company announced a new privacy policy scheduled to go into effect on January 23 that allows employees to read customers' notes.

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.

The latest update to the Privacy Policy allows some Evernote employees to exercise oversight of machine learning technologies applied to account content. While our computer systems do a pretty good job, sometimes a limited amount of human review is simply unavoidable in order to make sure everything is working exactly as it should.

In describing this position more succinctly, Evernote's privacy policy states that employees will look at notes "for troubleshooting purposes or to maintain and improve the Service". But some users are concerned about the vague wording of the clause, which journalist Stacy-Marie Ishmael has called "so broad as to be all inclusive". Meanwhile, some users have taken to social media to join a growing chorus of revolt.

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.

Users can read more about the new changes to Evernote's privacy policy here.

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.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
48 months ago
So glad I dumped that bloated nagware of a product.

I'm using Apple notes now. A focused, well executed product.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
They'll regret that.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
That's one way to lose a lot of customers.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
Once upon a time, everyone loved 'the cloud' ...

...and then the cloud rained on everyone.

The end.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago

I feel that much of these apparently good companies are just pure evil and we realize it only too late. If you want privacy use paper.

With invisible ink in your own made up language in a locked room on a deserted island after you've killed everyone. Maybe too far there.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
Crap like this is exactly why I will never trust any cloud based service.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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