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Evernote reverses course on opt-out privacy policy that would’ve exposed users’ content to employees

Evernote for iOS

Evernote has withdrawn planned changes to its privacy policy that would have permitted some employees to view the content of users’ note, as the company works on new features that rely on machine-learning technology.

The company caused an uproar earlier this week when news emerged of the pending changes, which were due to take effect on January 23. Even if users were to opt out of allowing their information to be viewed by employees, the planned changes drew attention to the company’s existing policy that permitted employees to look at users’ content “for other reasons stated in our Privacy Policy,” which included quite a few vague reasons, including “to maintain and improve the service.”

Evernote CEO Chris O’Neill issued an apology of sorts yesterday for the company’s “poor communication” around the policy, and pointed out that users’ information would be anonymized. But today the company has gone one step further by announcing that it’s no longer implementing the planned changes in their current form.

“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,” explained Evernote’s senior director of communications Greg Chiemingo, in a blog post. “As a result, we will not implement the previously announced Privacy Policy changes that were scheduled to go into effect January 23, 2017.”

Instead, the company says it will be “revising” its existing privacy policy to “address our customers’ concerns.” It isn’t ditching its plans in the machine-learning realm, instead it’s doing what it probably should have done in the first place — making the program opt-in.

“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,” added O’Neill. “We’re sorry we disappointed our customers, and we are reviewing our entire privacy policy because of this.”

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Ms. A. C. Kennedy
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