Evernote: Update To Privacy Policy Was “Communicated Poorly”

Image courtesy of DocChewbacca

Evernote is a cross-platform application for taking notes and storing information, which inspires almost religious devotion in users. This week, though, some Evernote fans have grown disillusioned because of a change to the company’s privacy policy that details how Evernote employees can access and read users’ notes. Update: this change has been called off, and Evernote will only peek at the notes of users who opt in.

The proposed privacy policy change, which is scheduled for Jan. 23, 2017, is part of the company’s move toward using machine learning. Hungry algorithms will gobble up all of the notes it has permission to see, figuring out patterns and ways to help users automate their tasks in the future.

Evernote employees seeing your stuff enters the picture because they’re checking up on the machine learning: it will be their job to make sure that the machines are learning what to do correctly.

“Evernote employees do not view the content of user notes except in very limited cases,” CEO Chris O’Neill wrote in a blog post intended to quell these concerns. However, users took little comfort in this explanation; they simply don’t want Evernote employees to see what they enter into the app——ever.

The company contends that the notes that employees would see would be snippets stripped of identifying information. Any sensitive information within the notes would be removed using the machine tools that the human employees are supposed to be training.

Apart from this, O’Neill explained, there are always situations in which employees will see customer data: when they have a technical problem and some of their data is missing.

There is an option to keep your account out of this program, or to encrypt only sensitive pieces of text with a password, keeping employees out of it. The administrator of a business account decides for all users whether the account will take part in the machine learning program or not.

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