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For starters, Evernote plainly states that a limited subset of its employees will be able to read the content of the notes that customers have stored there. It also plainly states that there is no way for customers to opt out of this.
What is new, and what will be enacted on January 23, 2017, is a change that allows some Evernote employees to exercise oversight of machine learning technologies applied to account content. This basically means that a small set of Evernote employees will be able to monitor the company’s machine learning efforts to ensure that it’s working as expected.
Evernote is allowing customers to opt out of its machine learning. To opt out of Evernote’s machine learning features, you’ll need to log in to your account, and uncheck the Improved Experience checkbox under Personal Settings.
Some provisions that allow employee access to your data include the following:
- We believe it is necessary to investigate potential violations of our Terms of Service, to enforce the Terms of Service, or where we believe it is necessary to investigate, prevent or take action regarding illegal activities, suspected fraud or potential threats against persons, property or the systems on which we operate the Service.
- We determine that the access, preservation or disclosure of information is required or permitted by law to protect the rights, property or personal safety of Evernote and users of the Service, or is required to comply with applicable laws, including compliance with warrants, court orders, subpoenas, legal process, or other lawful government requests (including in response to public authorities to meet national security or law enforcement requirements).
- We do so in connection with the sale or reorganization of all or part of our business, as permitted by applicable law.
Yet, the optics of a such a change have caused an outcry on Twitter. That’s not to say that I agree with Evernote’s policy, but understand that this update isn’t really changing much from what’s already possible with the currently existing policy.
Nonetheless, this news coupled with the recent basic account limitations and price hikes, will surely leave a lot of customers looking elsewhere to store their data. One such option is Apple’s Notes app. Apple has made it easy to migrate notes from Evernote to the Notes app.
If you’re a current Evernote user, will you be sticking with the service, or do you plan on migrating elsewhere?
What is changing, as O’Neill notes, is what we explained in our original post. Customers that opt in to machine learning may have their data viewed by Evernote employees to ensure that the features are working properly. However, O’Neill does clarify how this data will be accessed, and whether or not it is personally identifiable:
If you choose to participate in these experimental features, you’ll enjoy a more personalized experience. Select Evernote employees may see random content to ensure the features are working properly but they won’t know who it belongs to. They’ll only see the snippet they’re checking. Not only that, but if a machine identifies any personal information, it will mask it from the employee.
I’ve personally decided to stick with Evernote, as it’s by far the best app for my use case. I’ve long used Evernote to go paperless, and I’ve found that its storage and search functionality is a step above the rest for my particular use case scenario.