Evernote Walks Back Privacy Policy Change

This has been an interesting week for Evernote. After having a privacy policy change come to light that highlighted the fact that they could have access to their data to make sure that their machine-learning efforts were working as designed. Predictably that blew up and their CEO tried to make it go away by clarifying things.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this attempt to clarify things didn’t go over too well because the company is now walking back this change to their privacy policy:

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. As a result, we will not implement the previously announced Privacy Policy changes that were scheduled to go into effect January 23, 2017.

Instead, in the coming months we will be revising our existing Privacy Policy to address our customers’ concerns, reinforce that their data remains private by default, and confirm the trust they have placed in Evernote is well founded. 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. We will invite Evernote customers to help us build a better product by joining the program.

My take on this goes something like this. I don’t think there was anything sinister going on here. I think what Evernote was trying to do was provide full disclosure in terms of what it was doing. Plus, this policy was already in effect. Thus this was going on and the only reason planet Earth found out about it is because Evernote themselves brought it to light when they tried to change their privacy policy. I am thinking that if Evernote communicated this better from the start and perhaps made this an opt in option from the start, we wouldn’t be talking about this now. Having said that, one has to wonder if the damage to Evenote’s reputation cause by this mess is something that they can recover from.

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