Evernote backs down on the latest adjustment of its privacy policies. Image Source: Venture Beat

Following intense backlash from users around the world, the Evernote team has decided to go back to where it once was, backing out on their latest changes to the app’s Privacy Policy. The company subsequently released two blogs posts apologizing for their actions.

Evernote introduced new mandatory regulations that wanted to optimize the app’s machine learning features but also meant giving developers access to user content.

Though this did not mean that all user notes would be out in the open, most clients saw this change as a huge risk for sensitive information to leak out.

In essence, the new Privacy Policy said the Evernote employees could read a user’s notes with no way for them to opt-out. The changes would have become active on January 23rd, 2017.

The battle between Evernote and Google's Keep is far from over, given that Evernote will now depend on Google Cloud Platform for its data infrastructure. Image Source: Tech Times
The battle between Evernote and Google’s Keep is far from over, given that Evernote will now depend on Google Cloud Platform for its data infrastructure. Image Source: Tech Times

The Evernote executive team blames criticism on poor communication

Chris O’Neill, Evernote’s CEO, was the first to take the stage after today’s backtracing, stating that the “understandable confusion” that came from their new Policy was the result of poor communication skills, on their part.

The executive then apologized “for any angst, we may have caused,” and went on to explain that some things would indeed change, but others would remain the same.

“Privacy has always been at the heart of Evernote,” O’Neill wrote. “And we’re as committed as ever to upholding our Three Laws of Data Protection. These laws guide everything we do, and, I believe, represent industry-leading standards for privacy.”

He reiterated that legal requirements sometimes include accessing a user’s notes for a variety of reasons exposed in their Terms of Service.

Examples of this include violations of the site's norms, suspicion of criminal activity, and so on. Image Source: Google Play
Examples of this include violations of the site’s norms, suspicion of criminal activity, and so on. Image Source: Google Play

Machine learning is not completely off the table, user data collection remains

The CEO stated that machine learning was still in the works for Evernote, looking to automate some of the most registered tasks on the app, like creating to-do lists or making travel plans.

However, users will now have the option to opt-out entirely of data collection for this purpose. A checkbox will appear on the client’s Personal Settings page.

Users who do decide to become Evernote’s machine learning guinea pigs will enjoy “a more personalized experience,” O’Neill writes.

He adds that ‘select’ Evernote employees “may see random content to ensure the features are working properly” but also that “but they won’t know who it belongs to.”

He also promised that if the machine in question identifies a user’s sensitive information on a given note, they will mask it before it goes to review.

Source: Evernote

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