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UPDATE: Following the intense user backlash, Evernote has backtracked on its intentions of implementing the new Privacy Policy that allowed staff members to read unencrypted notes. "We will make machine learning technologies available to our users, but no employees will be reading note content as part of this process unless users opt in," the company wrote in an update posted today on its site. The original article is below.

Evernote updated its Privacy Policy yesterday and added provisions that allow company employees to access unencrypted notes.

The new Privacy Policy comes into effect on January 23, 2017, as Evernote is pushing features powered by machine learning algorithms.

The latest update to the Privacy Policy allows some Evernote employees to exercise oversight of machine learning technologies applied to account content, subject to the limits described below, for the purposes of developing and improving the Evernote service.

As the company admits in the updated policy, these machine learning algorithms aren't perfect, and staff members might need to go over unencrypted notes manually, in some situations.

This is primarily to make sure that our machine learning technologies are working correctly, in order to surface the most relevant content and features to you. 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.

The company is recommending that users encrypt their notes if they want to avoid staff members taking a peek.

Users can disable machine learning features, but not nosy Evernote employees

Additionally, users can also opt out of any features that rely on machine learning features.

Each user account settings page now includes an option that reads, "Allow Evernote to use my data to improve my experience," and will allow users to turn off any features powered by machine learning.

Unfortunately, as the company admits, this doesn't prevent Evernote employees from reading your notes.

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?").

The company was aware that these changes might cause an uproar in its userbase, and has provided instructions on how users can export their data and leave the Evernote service.

Only a handful of Evernote employees can access user data

In a separate blog post, Evernote CEO Chris O'Neill said the following, regarding staff members that are

The number of employees who are authorized to view this content is extremely limited by our existing policies, and I am personally involved in defining them.

On Twitter, Evernote users didn't react very well to O'Neill and the company's announcement.


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