Evernote backtracks on controversial privacy policy

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Evernote has performed an abrupt about-face on a controversial new privacy policy. The policy, released earlier this week, caused some upset, with users objecting to a clause that stated: “you cannot opt out of employees looking at your content.” Evernote tried to clarify that this employee snooping was only done to improve machine learning analysis, and that personal details were censored, but the damage has been done. Now, the company says it’s making this part of the privacy policy opt-in instead.

“After receiving a lot of customer feedback…”

“After receiving a lot of customer feedback expressing concerns about our upcoming Privacy Policy changes over the past few days, Evernote is reaffirming its commitment to keep privacy at the center of what we do,” said the company in a blog post. “In the coming months we will be revising our existing Privacy Policy to address our customers’ concerns […] In addition, 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 new privacy policy was originally slated to go into effect on January 23rd, 2017. Instead, the company says it will be rewriting the policy “in the coming months,” and promises to consult with users over the process.

However, for Evernote users worried about the sanctity of their notes, it’s worth remembering a few things. Firstly, Evernote, like every other tech company, has to comply with warrants from law enforcement. If the police or the FBI has a legally sound reason to look at your notes (or your email, or tweets, or whatever), they can. Secondly, Evernote doesn’t encrypt users’ notes by default, meaning that hackers who break into the company’s servers (or unscrupulous Evernote employees), can access them too. Encryption would stop this, as well as hamper law enforcement, so if you’re worried about your notes’ privacy: encrypt.

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