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Evernote reverses on privacy change that allowed workers to read user entries

UPDATE: Evernote has announced it will no longer enact a proposed change to its privacy policy, that would have allowed some employees to read user’s private notes.

Following a huge backlash earlier this week, CEO Chris O’Neill says the plans to access user information in order to improve machine learning capabilities will only occur if users opt in.

“We announced a change to our privacy policy that made it seem like we didn’t care about the privacy of our customers or their notes. This was not our intent, and our customers let us know that we messed up, in no uncertain terms. We heard them, and we’re taking immediate action to fix it,” said O’Neill.

“We are excited about what we can offer Evernote customers thanks to the use of machine learning, but we must ask for permission, not assume we have it. We’re sorry we disappointed our customers, and we are reviewing our entire privacy policy because of this.”

Original story appears below…

When it comes to the array of cloud-based note-taking apps out there, Evernote is probably the most popular. However, following today’s reports, there may be a few folks looking for an alternate source.

The company, which specialises in enabling users to create media-rich notes that sync across multiple devices and platforms, has altered its privacy policy.

As part of the changes to the privacy policy, which goes into effect on January 23 2017, Evernote employees will now have express permission to read your entries. No, really.

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The company says it’s all to benefit their machine learning efforts and the only way to opt out is to get rid of Evernote completely.

The new privacy policy reads: “If you would prefer to opt out of machine learning technologies on your content (including some which require some human review for oversight purposes), you can do so in your account settings, where it says, ‘Allow Evernote to use my data to improve my experience.’ If you do opt out, however, you may not be able to get the most out of your Evernote experience.

“And please note that you cannot opt out of employees looking at your content for other reasons stated in our Privacy Policy (under the section, “Does Evernote Share My Personal Information or Content?”).”

At least those using desktop platforms have the option of encrypting the messages, but those exclusively using mobile devices are out of luck.

As for why it is allowing “a list of Evernote employees” to access user data beyond machine learning, the company says it won’t be using it for targeting ads.

If this isn’t acceptable to you in any way, the company is providing users with an open invitation to leave, providing users with instructions to “leave the Evernote service.”

“We would hate to see you go, though, especially when we continue to have so many exciting new developments to share with you,” the firm pleads.

Well, Evernote users, you know what you need to do…

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Will you be leaving Evernote? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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