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December 15, 2016

Evernote’s New Privacy Policy Lets Staff Read Customers’ Notes ‘to Improve the Service’

by John_A

Some 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 24 that effectively 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.

Tags: Evernote, privacy
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