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Evernote’s Privacy Policy Updates

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Beginning December 9th, customers will begin receiving a notice via email about changes to our Privacy Policy. Please review the FAQ here which details what’s changing, and let us know if you have any questions. The changes will be effective January 23, 2017. 

UPDATE, 12/15: the FAQ has been updated to provide further clarity to our users regarding our upcoming Privacy Policy update. We will continue to update and refine this FAQ in order to address user feedback and concerns. A note from our CEO, Chris O'Neill, is also live on our blog

UPDATE (2), 12/15: We’ve heard your comments and we are not making the changes to our privacy policy that we’d previously announced. Over the coming months, we will be revising our existing privacy policy to reaffirm this commitment. See our latest blog post for more info.

Let us know what you think below in the new discussion, linked from our blog post here: 

 

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4 hours ago, gbarry said:

Beginning December 9th, customers will begin receiving a notice via email about changes to our Privacy Policy. Please review the FAQ here which details what’s changing, and let us know if you have any questions. The changes will be effective January 23, 2017. 

From the change summary what does In building a more personalized Evernote service that can adapt to the way you think and work, we may need to oversee these automated technologies to ensure they are working as intended.actually mean relative to automated technologies?  And what are the future advanced features one would be missing if one opted out?

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So this seems to be about "machine learning technologies" that "will help you get the most out of your Evernote experience." What technologies, exactly? How could anything Evernote's machines could learn from my data get me more from my Evernote experience? This needs to be WAY, WAY more specific.

It says that if I opt out of this, I may not get the most out of my Evernote experience. I think that's a chance I'm willing to take, unless I get lots more information about how the "experience" will be enhanced. The only thing I can imagine this enhancing is the "context" feature, which is already easy to turn off.

At this point, I'd have to call the FAQ another epic Evernote communication fail, saying almost nothing specific and therefore leaving me only with uneasiness and suspicion.

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I find your coming update for a more "personalized" Evernote very upsetting. You will change your privacy policy and have your staff  look into people's private sphere to help "technology" make Evernote more "personalized"? I hate Facebook because it gives me what it THINKS I like. There you are. Why leave a god concept for a bad one? Who asked for this? Count me out, I don't need you.

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It's time to delete Evernote I think. Why they can't make really good apps like in the past and stay way from our data, just a ***** app offline *****. ***** off.

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I tend to have the deepest suspicions of the various incarnations of 'intelligent' software based on my experiences so far.  Intelligent task management gets increasingly frustrated that I'm not doing the job it thinks is most important for me to complete at this minute,  largely because it wasn't party to the conversation I had with an aggravated customer earlier that morning.  My navigation app keeps nagging me to give it appointment times so it can calculate what time I need to leave to arrive on time.  And then pops up over the top of any other app I'm running to tell me "time to leave!".  It's like having a needy sidekick who always wants more information to do their job better,  but uses way more time than it saves because I have to plan my days ahead in nitpicking detail to keep it happy.  And woe betide us if a curve ball arrives at any point... major replanning required!

So far I've terminated the apps I've experienced with extreme prejudice.  Let's hope this integration goes better. :huh:

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49 minutes ago, gazumped said:

I tend to have the deepest suspicions of the various incarnations of 'intelligent' software based on my experiences so far.  Intelligent task management gets increasingly frustrated that I'm not doing the job it thinks is most important for me to complete at this minute,  largely because it wasn't party to the conversation I had with an aggravated customer earlier that morning.  My navigation app keeps nagging me to give it appointment times so it can calculate what time I need to leave to arrive on time.  And then pops up over the top of any other app I'm running to tell me "time to leave!".  It's like having a needy sidekick who always wants more information to do their job better,  but uses way more time than it saves because I have to plan my days ahead in nitpicking detail to keep it happy.  And woe betide us if a curve ball arrives at any point... major replanning required!

So far I've terminated the apps I've experienced with extreme prejudice.  Let's hope this integration goes better. :huh:

i've worked with some great ai (and still am) in other apps, so i am cautiosly optimistic, even if i am unlikely to benefit from it. i'll keep the relevant private data out of evernote, or i'll be given better tools to encrypt it--either way, evernote isn't getting the data. if they gave me the encrypted environment i want. though, at least they'd be giving me incentive to keep paying for premium.

 

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I understand that the change of the privacy policy is necessary to make automatic machine learning possible. 

But what I absolutely don't understand is the fact that Evernote employees must access the user notes and notebooks to check if machine learning works correctly. 

It's a big difference if computers are accessing the data or real people. 

Can you please explain why this is necessary? 

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Massively disappointing news. I would have expected that paying for a software product would entitle me to greater security of my data, not less.

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37 minutes ago, TazUK said:

Massively disappointing news. I would have expected that paying for a software product would entitle me to greater security of my data, not less.

I'm seeing this "feature" as applying to both paid and non-paying accounts.

I'm not completely clear on the benefits of machine learning, but I'm not seeing it as a data security issue.

I note that I can opt out if I chose so I don't see the reason for your massive disappointment

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I feel ok about the privacy policy changes but, rather than encrypt some text (tedious), I would like to encrypt just some complete Notebook(s). I'm thinking something like the ability to Right click on a notebook and then see an option to encrypt it in the drop-down context menu.

I think that would be acceptable for the purposes of privacy but also allowing a useful amount of data to the Evernote engineers for " building a more personalized Evernote service that can adapt to the way you think and work ".

How about that Evernote?

 

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Google does not lock down a portion of features or services when one turns off Google's ability to "learn" from the content of their gmail or Google Voice account. It's a simple yes/no check box and emailing carries on as normal no matter which way you have answered it. Yet here's Evernote saying that if we turn that permission off, we are going to lose out on content or features (details of which are unclear, which does not surprise me in the slightest).

One has nothing to do with the other. Either your employees are allowed to peek for "machine learning" purposes or they are not, but that permission being granted has nothing to do with our ability to utilise upcoming features; it would be the same as if we encrypted every note, but I don't see a "you can't use some features" for that use case. If you need to look at actual accounts, then have QA make you some extra ones for your specific testing purposes.

There is no legitimate reason for you to have to go in and read your customer's private content (unless they call or post about a technical problem with something specifically, and grant you temporary permission to go in and look at it) and Evernote's announcement about this change does nothing but make "losing features" appear to be punitive - a way for Evernote to punish the customers who are not "cooperating".

It would be something else entirely if the staff was able to go in and look at every account's notes for their stated purpose; something like having to view a note in order to turn a new feature on at the account level (yeah this is a real oddball theory - precisely what this new requirement is). At least then there would be a more likely excuse to need access, but that's not even physically possible. Out of the millions of accounts with notes, only a tiny percentage will actually be physically looked at because there is just no way you can look at more - yet somehow that permission check box denies all those users that the staff will never see (or even know about) new content or features? You are making me wonder what you are really up to.

I would also like noted that when I paid my premium fee, there was nothing in the TOS that stated I would be unable to use certain features - free OR paid - unless I allowed people to look at my private notes. That is an immediate deal breaker. I pay for storage space to keep my notes and hopefully Premium fees go toward a bit of development - but my having signed up for that service does not entitle said service to have access to my private content. If that was the case I never would have signed up all those years ago. [Reading a couple of replies above mine, it has become clear to me that I haven't been paying attention - my content is apparently an open book for Google and other partners of Evernote already, so it is probably time for me to go.]

I have more reason than the average bear to distrust this company due to a royal privacy screwup years ago that made me quit for a while, but even someone just discovering Evernote would be brought up short by this invasion of privacy requirement - if they value their privacy at all and/or care who sees their content. I don't care if the employees are 7 stories deep in the earth in a completely detached and secure facility - I don't know that person looking at my notes and I do NOT want them doing so. The first thing I did after reading your email about this today was come find that little bugger check box and turn it off. I may only be one person but I'm pretty sure there are other customers who value their privacy a bit more than Evernote apparently does.

Oh, and this part of the email:

Quote

Also, we’ll be using data from other sources to tailor your Evernote experience and explain how you can get more out of your Evernote account. For example, a student and a professional may have different needs. Customizing the Evernote experience will make it more useful for everyone.

 
 
 

How do I opt out of that? Because this sounds like you're going to be looking at my data anyway to see how I use the service. Salesforce tried something similar to this recently where they looked at your data to see if any of your customers were customers of theirs (or if they had data on them that you did not have entered), in order to share more of that customer's data with you. My company shut that down that "feature" faster than their head could spin - who wants some random people looking at your prospects or customers? It's none of their bloody business! It was a stupid, stupid move - and this new one by Evernote is not much better.

Before any such requirements go live, your customers need the ability to mass-encrypt their data; it's obviously needed. I have thousands of notes and if I were staying, I would be 92 before I finished encrypting them one by one.

Now - get out of my content and data - just leave it alone. It's not yours. You do not have the right to see it, sniff it, read it, manipulate it, or see how the aggregate can benefit you. And that goes for any of Evernote's partners. HANDS OFF.

TL;DR

  • If nobody had a problem with strangers pawing through their personal data, there would be no private notes.
  • If you need to look at actual accounts while developing your "machine learning" then have QA make you some. You should be working on a development server with test data anyway.
  • There is no legit reason to require that this permission be turned on, and there is no legit reason why that permission setting should affect someone's feature set. Especially if they are a Premium member.
  • My rental of some of your server space, and hopefully funds toward development, does not entitle you to my personal content. Ever. However, if that is the direction of the new Evernote, then please tell me now so that I can pack my bags.
  • I need an opt-out for your other "feature" where you're planning on invading privacy even further by gathering data from other sources and trying to tell me how to use your service. I do not want you "gathering data from other sources" about me, my reasons for taking notes, my notebook colors, or my note-taking habits.  
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44 minutes ago, Herbie said:

I feel ok about the privacy policy changes but, rather than encrypt some text (tedious), I would like to encrypt just some complete Notebook(s). I'm thinking something like the ability to Right click on a notebook and then see an option to encrypt it in the drop-down context menu.

I think that would be acceptable for the purposes of privacy but also allowing a useful amount of data to the Evernote engineers for " building a more personalized Evernote service that can adapt to the way you think and work ".

How about that Evernote?

 

It's more constructive if you add your vote to a feature request, for example the post  below

Personally, I prefer to encrypt specific content, and not lose the search feature encryption prevents  

 

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58 minutes ago, DTLow said:

It's more constructive if you add your vote to a feature request, for example the post  below

Personally, I prefer to encrypt specific content, and not lose the search feature encryption prevents  

 

Thx DTLow. I didn't think of the search feature loss.   

Sorry, I don't understand about the vote and I want to be constructive. Where (as if replying to a 7-year-old) do I vote..  Do you mean clicking the "LIKE THIS"?  

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Instead of proactively peeping at user accounts and notes to improve machine learning tech, wouldn't it be a better idea to let users report cases where THEY THINK Evernote need to fix an issue with machine learning? That way, the company can still get feedback about its machine learning technologies from the intended users, while at the same time avoid confusion, and unnecessarily making people uncomfortable! Please reconsider the approach!

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I had a hard time accepting the huge % increase in fee for premium service last year.  I was thinking about Apple Notes then for cost, but decided I would miss some of those features Notes does not have to much.  But now this.  I just can't shake the feeling with the flimsy description of how this access will be used that we are going to see recommendations to purchase new features beyond premium at a minimum.  I can't shake the feeling that the reason for this change on privacy is profit motivated for a company I suspect is somewhat struggling financially and is now willing to shave a little off its moral position on privacy to accomplish that profit. 

If Evernote cannot be specific in how this access will help us, even in an i.e., I'm out.  No Evernote, I do not really trust your employees with my personally identifiable confidential information I have in my notes.  Yes, Evernote, as my second brain I've trusted you with this information in the past.  But last I checked, no one could check my first brain contents to help me use other features of my brain I might be missing out on.  And I'm happy that way thank you.  And given a choice between privacy and unknown future features that might nag and irritate me like that context search bug, I will choose privacy in the end.  What do I have to hide?  I don't know for sure so I want to hide it all.

This whole thing makes me want to go buy an Apple product to support their privacy cause.  Each new day seems to make their position shine brighter lately.    

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i agree with herbie. the solution has always been simple: enable us to encrypt notebooks. you have zero-knowledge for text blocks. expand it to notebooks, and the problem is solved. but, votes (not something i participate in) or not, evernote has clearly said on multiple occasions over the years that it is not interested.

so, that's that. 

it's too bad, really. 1) allow me to encrypt my data at the notebook level and i'll be thrilled to use evernote more. 2) refuse to allow encryption, and i won't put it into evernote.

one way you get a satisfied, paying customer. the other way, you get an unsatisfied customer who is unsure each year whether it is worth continuing. i mainly use it in my university classes as a space for me to work together on projects with students-- it's an excellent solution, but is it worth buying premium to accomplish this?

 either way, evernote isn't getting my personal data. the first option seems like a no-brainer for my "second brain," but i guess there is a reason somewhere to explain why evernote refuses to do what its competitors (onenote, devonthink, etc.) are doing. ugh.

as for this change to the privacy terms, it's just an expansion of the existing policy that allows employees to view notes. it's not a good direction, but it's also just one more step on a road we've been on for a while.

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7 hours ago, Herbie said:

Sorry, I don't understand about the vote and I want to be constructive. Where (as if replying to a 7-year-old) do I vote..  Do you mean clicking the "LIKE THIS"?  

I posted an example of a feature request for encrypted notebooks.  You can click on the title to switch to that post.

You'll see voting buttons in the top left corner of the request discussion.

No guarantees, but it's a method of showing Evernote priorities from a user perspective

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Very disappointing.

Evernote is perfect as it is, it's an app to TAKE NOTES.

Please don't try to become some sort of creepy Google Now assistant, that's not why people use Evernote for.

What I do want? encryption, would be happy to pay for it.

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I'd been considering returning to using Evernote as my primary note-taking app, and logged back into my old account the other day. I've tried to come to terms with the privacy policy and to consider it a trade-off for Evernote's features, but when I tried to start using the app again, I kept finding myself thinking whether I'd want people to see what I was writing and if it's worth encrypting. It was a bit like the uncomfortable feeling of working with someone peering over your shoulder. It's silly and maybe a bit paranoid, but I don't want to feel like that about an app that I'd ideally be using every day. I'm not going to be using Evernote again unless they create encrypted notebooks.

Edited by sinistersword
More clarity.
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As a developer, I understand that sometimes you need to be able to look at real data to see if your code is working as expected.  However, instead of making me sign off on an all or nothing rule, I would like evernote to send me request for permission every time one of Evernote's developers needs access to my data. Let me know what data the developer wants to access and who the developer is.  You are correct, it's my data, I want to know who is looking at it and decide if I am OK with it.

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18 hours ago, farianote said:

Please don't try to become some sort of creepy Google Now assistant, that's not why people use Evernote for.

16 hours ago, sinistersword said:

I kept finding myself thinking whether I'd want people to see what I was writing ...

Did you see the point about being able to opt out of this program.

Also you can always make use of your own encryption resources, or Evernote's built in text encryption feature

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1 hour ago, zotje said:

As a developer, I understand that sometimes you need to be able to look at real data to see if your code is working as expected.  However, instead of making me sign off on an all or nothing rule, I would like evernote to send me request for permission every time one of Evernote's developers needs access to my data. Let me know what data the developer wants to access and who the developer is.  You are correct, it's my data, I want to know who is looking at it and decide if I am OK with it.

Not likely to happen. If you're uncomfortable with having an Evernote employee look at your data, then just opt out of machine learning, as described in the FAQ.

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Why can't Evernote do their quality control testing of machine learning on Evernote employee's data instead of the customers?

Probably because the Evernote employees have already opted out.
 

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"While we think machine learning is a great tool that will help you get the most out of your Evernote experience, we understand that not everyone feels the same way. "

If Evernote thinks their new machine learning is a great tool, why don't they tell us what it does? Sounds like 1984 Newspeak.

 

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6 hours ago, jbenson2 said:

Why can't Evernote do their quality control testing of machine learning on Evernote employee's data instead of the customers?

How do you know they aren't?

Anyways, one reason I can guess at: the number of Evernote employees is small relative to the number of Evernote users (1 to 5000?). And one other thing; who's saying that they're focusing on individual accounts? They may be looking at cross-sections of a number of accounts, selected at random or maybe by some criterion.

6 hours ago, jbenson2 said:

If Evernote thinks their new machine learning is a great tool, why don't they tell us what it does?

More details would indeed be welcome. I'm just guessing above...

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7 hours ago, jefito said:

And one other thing; who's saying that they're focusing on individual accounts?

Who? I am.

I reviewed some of Evernote's legalese and vague customer access policies that could be construed as geared for individual accounts.

  • "We keep the list of Evernote employees who have access to user data as small as possible." [by using a small font size for the list?]
  • "Only employees who are fulfilling one of the customer or business needs." [a very broad description]
  • "Or for troubleshooting purposes or to maintain and improve the Service." [another vague description that could also apply to individuals - that is my guess]
     
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1 hour ago, jbenson2 said:

I reviewed some of Evernote's legalese and vague customer access policies that could be construed as geared for individual accounts.

  • "We keep the list of Evernote employees who have access to user data as small as possible." [by using a small font size for the list?]
  • "Only employees who are fulfilling one of the customer or business needs." [a very broad description]
  • "Or for troubleshooting purposes or to maintain and improve the Service." [another vague description that could also apply to individuals - that is my guess]
     

None of these statements say anything specific to how they intend to access account data; i.e., whether they focus on specific, identifiable, accounts, or on anonymous ranges of accounts and account data. Certainly they'd be reviewing note content, but whose notes and whether users are identified in their processes is unclear. For testing machine learning, I tend to think it would be the latter, but that's just a guess (or a hope). I'm also guessing that the rules also allow for Evernote employees to make manual fixes to user data, if (ok, when) software has screwed up. But it's hard to draw any conclusions about what they'd be doing, if and until they provide more detail. Again, that would be welcome.

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3 hours ago, jefito said:

None of these statements say anything specific to how they intend to access account data; i.e., whether they focus on specific, identifiable, accounts, or on anonymous ranges of accounts and account data.

 

You have confirmed my point about the Evernote vague and general information. Our only solution is to guess.

You made your guesses and I made my guesses.

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All

Just wanted to let you know that we are listening to your questions and concerns and are currently working to collate those question and provide more detailed answers.

Thanks
Ben

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I like many, am most concerned about this  new privacy policy change, I agree that I dont think we have been given enough information.   I am going to look at the movie Snowden over the Christmas holiday break, becuse I have a very strong concern that " could it be" that our information is being accessed by a third party, all a third party would have to do would be to pay Evernote a large fee to have full access to our information.

 

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I also want entire notebook encryption. It simply cannot Be that difficult to offer. Based on this new privacy policy communication, I will not renew my premium subscription. I've paid you for using your app, presumably that also covers server space, so why do you suddenly think it's ok to go snooping in my data...fo some poorly defined reason? It's my data. I created it and you can't see it. Period. 

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Just researching this whole privacy thing (please bear with me...bit new to all his and I don't have a tech background)....

why don't I just use google drive? It seems to be good value, says the traffic and website is encrypted. Does that mean my notes/data are encrypted also? Seems like the answer to Evernote's dubious pathway. Sure, I'd maybe miss some features but for basic note storing and PDF storage surely google drive is the way to go?

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2 hours ago, Flight101 said:

why don't I just use google drive?

I wouldn't want to give up the Evernote UI, the note editor that assembles the note with content and attachments and provides the Organization and Search features.  

Why are you finding this pathway dubious, given you can opt out of the "machine learning" thing

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All

 

We appreciate the feedback and discussion regarding our recent changes to the Evernote privacy policy, and we wanted to expand and provide clarification on the topics raised.

 

Let's start with the most important point: Evernote fully respects your privacy. We know (because you’ve told us) that some of you store highly personal information in Evernote. We want to continue to offer you a place to store this information.

 

A number of you have expressed a concern that as a result of our upcoming Privacy Policy change, Evernote employees will be actively reading your notes. This is not the case. At all times we minimize the identifiable user data that Evernote employees can access; we minimize the number of employees who have such access; and we implement technical, administrative, and organizational controls over employee data access.

 

Our Privacy Policy has always stated that there may be situations in which Evernote employees can access your data, such as to determine if you have violated our Terms of Service. (See our Privacy Policy (under the section, “Information Access and Disclosure”).

 

The change we are making, effective in January, is to allow an additional, small group of engineers to have access to some note content in order to oversee machine learning development. In this use case, we also do the following to further protect your privacy:

 

De-Linking - We remove the identifying account information from any notes that we review as part of Machine Learning. This means we don’t know which account created a specific note.  

 

Aggregation - Where possible, we also aggregate note data so that we are seeing summaries of note data and not specific note content.

 

If you want the level of human access to your account to stay the same as it always has, you can opt out of the change we are making to our Privacy Policy (effective January 23) by going to your account settings and un-ticking the box where it says, “Allow Evernote to use my data to improve my experience.”

 

If you decide to opt-out, you won’t lose any existing Evernote service functionality, and we’ll continue to deliver as many new features to you as possible while respecting your opt-out. The only future features you may not be able to benefit from are those that require our ML technology to learn on your data in order to provide results relevant to you.

 

If you want to better understand how we are seeing the future, please read the following tech blog post (https://blog.evernote.com/tech/2016/11/15/unstructured-data-google-nlp/) which gives examples of how we could use Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing technologies in the future.

 
 

We hope this clarifies why we are making these changes and we are here to answer any more questions you have.

 

Regards

 

The Evernote Team

 
 
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T

4 hours ago, benmc said:

If you want the level of human access to your account to stay the same as it always has, you can opt out of the change we are making to our Privacy Policy (effective January 23) by going to your account settings and un-ticking the box where it says, “Allow Evernote to use my data to improve my experience.”

I think the above states the default is opt in.  So we need to set a reminder for 1/23 if we decide to opt out, or when will the option be in settings?  Just to be clear.

Thanks for the link, the examples help to understand what EN is pursuing.  Not my cup of tea at this point, but good to know.

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2 minutes ago, csihilling said:

I think the above states the default is opt in.  So we need to set a reminder for 1/23 if we decide to opt out, or when will the option be in settings?  Just to be clear.

I have just double checked on my personal Evernote account and the check box setting is available now to deselect if you wish.

Ben

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13 minutes ago, benmc said:

I have just double checked on my personal Evernote account and the check box setting is available now to deselect if you wish.

Ben

Thanks.  I don't see the option in the public Windows version so I'll download the beta and see if it is there.

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8 minutes ago, csihilling said:

Thanks.  I don't see the option in the public Windows version so I'll download the beta and see if it is there.

To access, you need to come via the web client. Go to www.evernote.com and login from there.

Ben

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Okay, thanks.

EDIT:  Don't go to the web often, but assuming the option is under Account Settings - Personal Settings - Improved Experience, I think I got it.

Edited by csihilling
to show location of option
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12 hours ago, Flight101 said:

I also want entire notebook encryption. It simply cannot Be that difficult to offer. Based on this new privacy policy communication, I will not renew my premium subscription. I've paid you for using your app, presumably that also covers server space, so why do you suddenly think it's ok to go snooping in my data...fo some poorly defined reason? It's my data. I created it and you can't see it. Period. 

Here's the dilemma (regardless of note or notebook encryption):

1. Server side encryption, evernote will have access to the keys

2. Client side encryption, users will be unable to sync between multiple devices, as the keys are unique per device

3. WhatApp, FB messenger all use end2end encryption without having access to user's keys

4. Evernote may look into the same direction and re-use the same underlying technology other tech giants used.

5. I personally like Protonmail encryption approach (and sync accross multiple devices)

6. It is easier for evernote to update privacy policy and survive small customer base attrition than invest money into end2end encryption, which may prove costly to implement.

7. They recently moved to the cloud, and policy update may be related to this fact. Their cloud provider may have access to the storage system used by evernote for all their customers. 

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6 hours ago, N.A. said:

Here's the dilemma (regardless of note or notebook encryption):

Personally, if I want my data private, I encrypt it.  

No dilemma - it's just a question of which method to use

One method is actually a feature in Evernote (desktop platforms) and works on text within the note.  I agree tha encypted Notebooks would be the easiest method, but it has downsides.

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On 12/12/2016 at 4:01 PM, DTLow said:

Did you see the point about being able to opt out of this program.

Also you can always make use of your own encryption resources, or Evernote's built in text encryption feature

Yes, and since Evernote failed to articulate exactly how my "experience" is improved by participating in this "privacy" feature, I have opted out.

That said, the existing encryption feature is woefully inadequate. It must be done on a "note-by--note" basis. Instead, we should have capability for full notebook encryption, as well as whole account encryption... and with that the option, to locally search through encrypted content (we do own our own encryption keys... right?).

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13 minutes ago, ExNihilo said:

That said, the existing encryption feature is woefully inadequate. It must be done on a "note-by--note" basis. Instead, we should have capability for full notebook encryption, as well as whole account encryption... and with that the option, to locally search through encrypted content (we do own our own encryption keys... right?).

If you haven't already, you should go and add your vote to the feature request for this: 

 

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Appalling! I am certain that there are methodologies that are able to select random snippets of text for human verification, eliminating the propensity of some humans to satiate voyeuristic tendencies that were unbeknownst to them before you granted them the solemn power to peek into the private lives of unsuspecting humans.

Did you polygraph these employees and run through background checks that include psychological evaluations? Or does your executive board trust its judgment on character, willy nilly?

From an ethics standpoint, you are not entitled to take such liberties with the private information of individuals that never intended for other humans to read their information at will. From a controls standpoint, I suspect that you are not setup to grant employees such power; note that exercising internal executive oversight is not an adequate safeguard. 

Here's a thought: either find alternative ways to improve the technology, or institute internal controls that ensure transparency and accountability by, for example, instituting external audits and collecting and disclosing meaningful data on the kinds of information your employees access.  Otherwise, I am afraid that you may irreparably errode customer trust.

- A very disappointed customer. 

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@benmc,
Thanks for the long response and the link to the machine learning blog thread. I used to be an avid reader of the engineering team’s blog since Evernote was starting out. I have a lot of appreciation for the engineering team and what they do. When the decision was made up high to move to Google Cloud I was put off, and I am sure a lot on the engineering team were upset to hear as well. I had a lot of respect for the fact that the Evernote team was running in all local datacenters, and you guys really owned and controlled all their data. But it’s the time of cloud and it's just the most cost worthy decision. 

Now with the change in the TOS is not just a change in the way you guys treat data, it’s a change in the way you do business. You guys aren't are note company, you are a data company. You host notebooks of people's lives. I have had horrible and wonderful life experiences over my time as a user of evernote and what I do when I want to record those moments is to open Evernote and write. The last thing I want to do is share them with your engineers. When my subscription runs out next year I will be moving on, and it pains me to say that. I really like the convenience of Evernote, but Phil Libin, if you are reading this. Take your company back! Before you guys know it in a year's time you will be treating data like Facebook and Uber sees data. Don't fall into the norm of treating users like data machines. Treat them like the users that made the company what it is today.

If anyone is interested in moving to a free open source alternative notes application. You should look at Trutl. https://turtlapp.com/ Its not as feature rich as Evernote, but you own you data. Also self hosting a server will take quite a bit of technical apt. 

It’s your data, it’s your choice.

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Referring to https://evernote.com/legal/data-protection.php this change in privacy policy breaks rule 1. If my data is mine, I get to decide who can see it. As there is no way to opt-out rule, so I get to decide on my data rule 1 is broken. Also rule 2 is broken. Everything you put in evernote is not private by default.

Shame Evernote is doing this. I'm probably going to cancel.

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41 minutes ago, Sempermitu said:

Appalling! I am certain that there are methodologies that are able to select random snippets of text for human verification, eliminating the propensity of some humans to satiate voyeuristic tendencies that were unbeknownst to them before you granted them the solemn power to peek into the private lives of unsuspecting humans.

Did you polygraph these employees and run through background checks that include psychological evaluations? Or does your executive board trust its judgment on character, willy nilly?

From an ethics standpoint, you are not entitled to take such liberties with the private information of individuals that never intended for other humans to read their information at will. From a controls standpoint, I suspect that you are not setup to grant employees such power; note that exercising internal executive oversight is not an adequate safeguard. 

Here's a thought: either find alternative ways to improve the technology, or institute internal controls that ensure transparency and accountability by, for example, instituting external audits and collecting and disclosing meaningful data on the kinds of information your employees access.  Otherwise, I am afraid that you may irreparably errode customer trust.

- A very disappointed customer. 

We respect there are users who will feel this way and hope we have given them an option to continue to use the service by way of the opt out.

 

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Unfortunately it looks like after being an Evernote user for eight years, I need to find an alternative:

1) You tell people to store everything (tax forms, receipts, travel itineraries, etc) in Evernote

2) You offer no worthwhile encryption/security for notes that are created with your service

3) You change the pricing models of your service without thinking about existing or long term customers

4) You method of notification for moving the backend services to AWS is via Twitter instead of EMAILING PAYING customers that service might be disrupted.

5) Now you are expanding the people on your staff that can access customer data.  And we're supposed to be ok with potential Evernote employees viewing items from point #1.  And do not say you'll have safe guards in place that prevent this.  History has shown that will not be the case.

So now I look for an alternative before my subscription renews, because apparently Evernote no longer cares about their product but only the income they can generate from their customers. 

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From the PP:

"This is primarily to make sure that our machine learning technologies are working correctly, in order to surface the most relevant content and features to you. While our computer systems do a pretty good job, sometimes a limited amount of human review is simply unavoidable in order to make sure everything is working exactly as it should."

Could you not create lots of dummy data covering many scenarios for testing?

I'm old... been doing marketing & communications for a long time. Can I respectfully suggest you need a new communications policy...

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7 minutes ago, robsky said:

Referring to https://evernote.com/legal/data-protection.php this change in privacy policy breaks rule 1. If my data is mine, I get to decide who can see it. As there is no way to opt-out rule, so I get to decide on my data rule 1 is broken. Also rule 2 is broken. Everything you put in evernote is not private by default.

Opting out:

17 hours ago, benmc said:

f you want the level of human access to your account to stay the same as it always has, you can opt out of the change we are making to our Privacy Policy (effective January 23) by going to your account settings and un-ticking the box where it says, “Allow Evernote to use my data to improve my experience.”

 

If you decide to opt-out, you won’t lose any existing Evernote service functionality, and we’ll continue to deliver as many new features to you as possible while respecting your opt-out. The only future features you may not be able to benefit from are those that require our ML technology to learn on your data in order to provide results relevant to you.

 

12 hours ago, csihilling said:

EDIT:  Don't go to the web often, but assuming the option is under Account Settings - Personal Settings - Improved Experience, I think I got it.

 

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@benmc Interesting response... but de-linking is not sufficient and I am surprised that this is not obvious to your team. The note content may have sensitive data regardless of which account it came from. When I got my masters degree, there were several courses on ethics with User Data and Predictive Analytics. It really sounds like your team could use a refresher....

Sorry to be grumpy, but I trusted Evernote. The change in service and now the change in privacy policy is particularly scary. Being unable to opt out of human eyes (https://help.evernote.com/hc/en-us/articles/235660588) on my data is silly (yes- I understand law enforcement compliance is necessary and that is fine but your privacy policy allows for much broader usage). 

So, is there a way to remove all my data from Evernote and prevent all employees from looking at it? 

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2 minutes ago, DeAtrament said:

So, is there a way to remove all my data from Evernote and prevent all employees from looking at it? 

Select all your notes.  Press Delete.  Empty the Trash

Alternatve - move tour notes to local notebooks

Alternative - opt  out of this "machine learning" program

Altenative - encrypt your data

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This is another reason to move away, I've already given you one year of premium after that stupid limitation of the free tier in order to move away safely, I guess it's time to accelerate the process.

In the meantime I've already opted-out of your "improved experience" but I don't trust you anymore, sorry!

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1 minute ago, DTLow said:

Select all your notes.  Press Delete.  Empty the Trash

Alternatve - move tour notes to local notebooks

Alternative - opt  out of this "machine learning" program

Altenative - encrypt your data

While I agree with you entirely. I do believe if you are paying for the service they should be more focused on helping you as the user do this, than focusing on machine learning to sell marketing data.

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I don't know if anybody from Evernote bothers looking here or cares what is said here, but I'll go ahead anyway.

The email I have just received couldn't have been much less clear if it were encrytped.  I had to leave the email because it explains very little, and go elsewhere to find out what it really means, and that's how I arrived here.

I could write paragraphs about my concerns and disappointment with this change but I would only be echoing what others have said.  My guess is that Evernote knew some people would react badly but decided that the impact of any action those people take will be worth it.

I have paid for Evernote since about a week after I first used it, I can't remember exactly when but it would be 2009 or soon after.  I would have continued to pay for it because I value the service greatly.

Sadly, it seems that Evernote is going to join the numerous other big companies that sift, scan, mine, sieve, etc. their users' data.  Why, to make money I suppose. Here's a suggestion, boot the whining freeloaders off and charge paying users a fair price for what they get.  Size the company to support its smaller base of users and we can all live happily ever after, and you can eat. I know it won't happen, because much more important is being able to claim you have a gazillion users, cos it's good for the share price.

Well, I'm off.

Thanks for the orginal idea and a great service, until now.

 

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Hello,

I have been paying for Evernote for a little over a year, and let me say, up to this point I have been blown away. Hands down the best way I have come across for taking notes and maintaining some organization in my life. Great job guys.... At least up until this point.

 

The recent change in privacy policy is perplexing. This is an extremely short sighted move that seems to demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of who your users are, and how they use your platform. I get it. You need to innovate, and machine learning is the "hot thing" in tech right now. However the way you are implementing this is mind boggling.

 

But who cares right? I am just one person, and the loss of my monthly subscription fee will not affect your company in the slightest. However, you need to understand that this is quite a bit bigger than just one person. I am an engineer at a fortune 500 company. For the last year, I have been one of Evernote's biggest advocates within my organization. Up until this point, I have received little to no push-back from higher up to use the "officially supported" OneNote. However after this policy change goes into effect, I (and all of the others I have convinced to switch) will be returning to OneNote. Its not something we want to do. Trust me. However this change leaves us with literally no other choice. Our notes necessarily contain proprietary information that can not be allowed to be perused by any person that Evernote deems appropriate. LOVE the platform. But not enough to place my job security on the line.

 

I sincerely hope that whoever is at the wheel here wakes up, and soon. There are ways to do this, guys. Give your users (to which you owe your success thus far) the choice to opt out entirely. Can't do that? Fine. Then at least get a fire under you and implement web client based encryption (not really sure what the hold up is with this, as it has been a popular feature request for over a year). 

 

In a time when large companies are going out of their way to protect the sacred data of their users, Evernote is forging ahead in the complete opposite direction. This is absolutely absurd for a company whose sole product is essentially a digital diary. Shame on you for doing so little to protect those who have supported you up until this point. But that's enough of a rant, in this world you have to vote with your wallet. I sincerely hope that this mistake is corrected quickly. However until that occurs, your monthly payments will be flowing into Microsoft's coffers.

 

Hope to be back aboard again soon. Really.

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@DTLow And which of these removes them from server backups? 

I have already deleted all notes but I want to be wiped from existence. I have opted out but as I stated in my last post (and linked), evernote employees can still access data outside of ML. Or If they create a supervised learning training set from a backup will my data be part of it? My health records are not for consumption.

Edited by DeAtrament
Grammer fix

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2 minutes ago, dash488 said:

While I agree with you entirely. I do believe if you are paying for the service they should be more focused on helping you as the user do this, than focusing on machine learning to sell marketing data.

I'm still not clear on the purpose of the machine leaning (Skynet?) but did not think it was to sell marketing data.  Do you have any  more information on this?

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4 minutes ago, DTLow said:

I'm still not clear on the purpose of the machine leaning (Skynet?) but did not think it was to sell marketing data.  Do you have any  more information on this?

 

To be very clear on this point, we are not in or going to be in the business of selling marketing data. Our future use of Machine Learning technologies is only to deliver improved features to our users.

 

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18 minutes ago, DeAtrament said:

And which of these removes them from server backups? 

From another post, after a period of time, your data will cycle out of the server backups.

You really think "server backups" is where the machine leaning data is being accessed.

>>Or If they create a supervised learning training set from a backup will my data be part of it? My health records are not for consumption.

I haven't heard about that program, or are you just making things up (FUD)

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@DTLow

Quote

You really think "server backups" is where the machine leaning data is being accessed.

Yes. I know of several large corporations who clone server back-ups for data mining. This is fairly common practice in the machine learning world.

What makes you think I am making things up? I am a Data Science consultant and have seen exactly what I describe above. Evernote has had an impeccable reputation and simultaneously been hold notes have sensitive data. They have not described a Policy (with a capital P) that details what data in notes are used.

On a side note - your tone is incredible! I am asking for details about what is happening with Evernote and pulling in industry standard information. I don't see why you would be so accusatory. 

Edited by DeAtrament
Answering second part of question

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Absolutely disgusting what Evernote is doing. As a paid service is even worse.

Bye bye.

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Will we be notified when an employee accesses our data for Evernote's use?  Upon request, can Evernote supply an audit of what data was accessed, when it was accessed, why it was accessed, and who accessed it?

Like many here, I'm a long time paid user.  I have a lot of information in my Evernote account, which its not appropriate for people to see.

With the recent news about inappropriate use of user data by Uber employees, you would think Evernote would overcommunicate this change, rather than undercommunicate it.  The only reason I am here is because of the deserved uproar in the tech press.

With a former Google exec at the helm, its not surprising that we are becoming the product, instead of the customer.

 

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13 minutes ago, benmc said:

 

To be very clear on this point, we are not in or going to be in the business of selling marketing data. Our future use of Machine Learning technologies is only to deliver improved features to our users.

 

The thing is, benmc, "in order to surface the most relevant content and features to you" is given as the reason, and I don't want you to surface content and features to me, I want you to store my notes and let me tag them and view them.  Simple.  While you lot have been busy writing all sorts of addons that few people used or wanted, only to later can them, I've been using pretty-much the original functionality albeit with a slicker interface.

Not much learning of lessons going on at EN, machine or otherwise.

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Just now, MRJ said:

The thing is, benmc, "in order to surface the most relevant content and features to you" is given as the reason, and I don't want you to surface content and features to me, I want you to store my notes and let me tag them and view them.  Simple.  While you lot have been busy writing all sorts of addons that few people used or wanted, only to later can them, I've been using pretty-much the original functionality albeit with a slicker interface.

Not much learning of lessons going on at EN, machine or otherwise.

MRJ - We fully understand and respect this view, we have an Opt Out that if selected means nothing changes. Hope this calms the concern?

 

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16 hours ago, benmc said:

To be very clear on this point, we are not in or going to be in the business of selling marketing data. Our future use of Machine Learning technologies is only to deliver improved features to our users.

Thanks for the info

The "selling market data" idea was expressed by @dash8488

I trust Evernote with my data, and will paricipate in the ML program (unless it starts to bug me too much). Thankyou for the notice and the choice to opt out
But I'm still not completely clear about the machine learning part
You did explain about the retrieval of my data, but that seems straightforward to me and shouldn't require "learning"

edited: I trust Evernote, but will use encrtion to ensure my private data is kept secure

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23 minutes ago, DeAtrament said:

@DTLow

Yes. I know of several large corporations who clone server back-ups for data mining. This is fairly common practice in the machine learning world.

What makes you think I am making things up? I am a Data Science consultant and have seen exactly what I describe above. Evernote has had an impeccable reputation and simultaneously been hold notes have sensitive data. They have not described a Policy (with a capital P) that details what data in notes are used.

On a side note - your tone is incredible! I am asking for details about what is happening with Evernote and pulling in industry standard information. I don't see why you would be so accusatory. 

This was an announcement about machine learning and opting out

Now you're bringing up data mining - your tone is incredible.  I don't see why you would be so accusatory.

If you don't want to be part of this program - opt out.  If you don't trust Evernote, don't store your data with them

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Shame on Evernote.  You all should be putting more energy in to security.  Did you learn anything from your data breach?  Apparently you learned that the company doesn't have to respect its own policies.  If it is really MY DATA then I should get to choose if any other human can view it.  

I want you all to be SHRINKING the number of people that have access to my content, not increasing it.  Until today I was a happy premium customer.  Now that I have spent an hour reading your Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and learning about how Evernote lets an unspecified number of employees view my content and only allows me to encrypt text in a note...I am actively searching for an alternative to Evernote.  

Note level encryption would be a good start.  Notebook level even better.

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1 minute ago, DTLow said:

This was an announcement about machine learning and opting out

Now you're bringing up data mining - your tone is incredible.  I don't see why you would be so accusatory.

Ahaha - I see the confusion.... In machine learning / big data / data science community, the idea of "Learning from Data" is done by mining data to build models. This is called machine learning. In a supervised model (the type they would use if they are validating with user data), they require a training set that performs a specific way when run through the model. Consequently, when they discuss their plans for machine learning, my concern is the mechanics of how they are building their models. The mechanics of their tools would gauge how worried we should be as a community. My questions were to an evernote employee and meant to address those concerns. Instead you are arguing on their behalf without understanding the fundamentals for the technology in question.

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21 minutes ago, DeAtrament said:

My questions were to an evernote employee and meant to address those concerns. Instead you are arguing arguing on their behalf

Sorry, as you indicated, there are Evernote Employees in this discussion, and in fact it was started by an Evernote employee.  I didn't mean to get in the way of your questions

I'm not acting on anyone's behalf; just participating in the discussion and learning about this ML program

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According to one "Max" on Evernote Chat, if you go to account / personal settings, and untick the box "Allow Evernote to use my data to improve my experience" you are out of the program where they might read your notes:

 

Me: Hi there, I need to be sure my data will not, ever, under any circumstances other than those imposed by law, be read by a human being at Evernote. I have gone to personal settings and unticked the box "Allow Evernote to use my data to improve my experience." Does this guarantee no humans will look at my data (again, apart from what law enforcement requires)? And if not, how do I remove all of my data and close my account such that the data is not kept on backups (often used by machine learning).
 
Just a moment...
 
Max: Thank you for contacting Evernote Support. My name is Max and I will be assisting you today.
One moment while I read over your message.
 
Me: Sure, np
 
Max: OK, thank you for your patience.
So the opt-out you indicated in your account settings will remove you from our machine learning system. The only other situations where an Evernote employee will have access to the content in your account is if we believe that a user has violated our terms of service or if we are explicitly granted access by a user for troubleshooting purposes.
For the troubleshooting situations, those means are only available to our senior technicians in our support department.
 
Me: So as long as that box is deselected, my data will not be seen with the exceptions of what you said above?
And can you point to where that is written? Lots of talk on the web about not being able to opt out.
 
Max: Certainly, I understand. Give me a moment while I track that down for you.
 
Me: Thx
 
Max: You can find that here:
If you do a search of this page for "Do Evernote Employees Access or Review My Notes?"
Opting out in your account settings will opt you out of our latest changes to the privacy policy. This means that you will revert to the guidelines in the policy above.
 
Me: Thank you.
Am I missing something here?

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4 minutes ago, DTLow said:

Sorry, as you indicated, there are Evernote Employees in this discussion, and in fact it was started by an Evernote employee.  I didn't mean to get in the way of your questions

I'm not acting on anyone's behalf; just participating in the discussion

No worries - I appreciate your knowledge of the product and community. I think things are just getting heated because privacy is such a hot topic right now (as it should be!) and asking companies questions can be like talking to wall. 

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It really does seem like Evernote is trying to lose my business. This should be opt in not opt out. If the price goes up even a little bit more, I'm gone. 

I used to love Evernote, now its starting to annoy me. 

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I don't think Evernote really gets it.

You want us to organize our LIFE with Evernote, literally save everything. Many of us do. And then you give yourself a way to look at our data. Do you understand how crazy that seems?

From the company response here, it seems like they do not believe that users really care. I bet their internal communications right now are "as with any change, we have a few vocal users who are complaining. This will blow over in a couple of days and no one will remember it next week. Full speed ahead."

If you are an Evernote user and you don't think it's ok for a random person to look at your bills or letters or whatever you save, send them an email or write a comment in the forums or tweet at them. Volume of responses is the only way they'll know you are scared.

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, benmc said:

If you want to better understand how we are seeing the future, please read the following tech blog post (https://blog.evernote.com/tech/2016/11/15/unstructured-data-google-nlp/) which gives examples of how we could use Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing technologies in the future.

@benmc, I looked at that post. It is (to me) highly technical, and therefore not much help. I think what most of us raising a holler here want is an explanation of how we will benefit from Evernote's machine learning, so we can judge whether this benefit is worth the risk of exposing data in our notes (even if unconnected to us personally) to EN employees. We need an explanation somewhere in between "this will enhance your user experience" (which tells me nothing, and makes me suspicious because of its vagueness) and "In our early testing, we’ve found that Cloud Natural Language API can significantly reduce complexity in our ML pipeline environment by providing syntactical meaning across various languages, and mapping context and meaning to entities when appropriate" (which tells me nothing because I can only understand every other word of it).

Granted, near the beginning of that post, it says,

ML offers a way to automatically recognize a user’s intent, retrieve the data that matters in the moment, and surface it to that user in a useful context. Using this technology, we foresee a time when the Evernote app can make recommendations, improve organization, and ultimately optimize productivity.

That at least gives a rough idea, but a couple of comprehensible real-world examples of how this would be useful to us would be extraordinarily helpful. In light of the above quote about "recognizing a user's intent," I'm with @MRJ: "I don't want you to surface content and features to me, I want you to store my notes and let me tag them and view them." If I were sure of exactly what I'd be losing, I'd know if I want to opt out. Right now, my thought is I want you to leave my intent the heck alone. I'm pretty constantly aware of it myself, and am a big enough boy to find what I'm looking for on my own.

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I will without a doubt leave Evernote after many years of premium account if this policy is implemented indeed. That is totally outrageous. If you want to verify accuracy, then ask volunteers instead. Also, why don't you spend time and energy in bettering your existing offerings or by innovating on new features (Like making your IOS less buggy not giving up on Skitch, bettering penultimate app for hand notes and text recognition, better integrations, like with Alexa lists for example, etc.)

OneNote is quite a good contender, so the switch won't be so difficult.

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2 hours ago, dash488 said:

If anyone is interested in moving to a free open source alternative notes application. You should look at Trutl. https://turtlapp.com/ Its not as feature rich as Evernote, but you own you data. Also self hosting a server will take quite a bit of technical apt.

Wow, great tip.  Sounds as safe and more feature rich that Apple Notes so I will give it a look.  Google already sorts my airline tickets for me in inbox anyway and I don't really need Evernote guessing at how to make a todo list from raw notes either.  The time on guesses and misses would be at least as much as just making the list yourself I figure. I don't know why Evernote keeps adding these new 1/2 features before finishing the ones that work 1/2 way anyway.  You still can't control merge order on a Mac set of notes for instance after 3 years of people requesting that. But what, there is Skitch! or Fuji ScanSnap (sp?) or something else that twinkles and won't be fully implemented. Besides, it seems the real brains behind this latest push is the Google API.  Its a shame what is happening to Evernote.  They could (should) have been a contender!

 

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I've used Evernote for many years now. From snipped recipes to very personal information and business stuff under NDA's. I always called it an extension of my brain.

I have a premium account, because I believe in paying for services I rely on and I trusted that this gives companies to have a viable business mode, the whole "If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer." concept.

This news got me worried, not only about future situations but also the current. I kinda expected that my data would have been encrypted, but learned here that's not the case. I must say that's shocking. I'm always very restrained with using services and putting content online, but Evernote was always a no-brainer for me. I hope Evernote hears the concerns and acts on it, because they'll lose paying users.

€60 for a service as Evernote that has my privacy and security as primary focus, not a problem. €60 for a service as Evernote that I only (can) use for snipped recipes and grocery list, no way. 

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@Evernote... What is most wrong about this "update" is that you made it "opt-out"... a characteristic of sleazeball organizations. Are you proud to wear that association?

Had you simply offered this up as an opt-in feature, there would be far less controversy. As it is now, we have to question even the opt-out privacy policy which says in so much weaselease...

Quote

We need to do so for troubleshooting purposes;

What exactly constitutes "troubleshooting purposes, and would this ever be done without direct account hold consent before hand?

Yes, the can of security worms is now open, floodlit, and under magnification... and it smells rotten and vile.

Broken trust is not readily regained. Is that your going out of business strategy?

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1 hour ago, Han Zo said:

According to one "Max" on Evernote Chat, if you go to account / personal settings, and untick the box "Allow Evernote to use my data to improve my experience" you are out of the program where they might read your notes:

And you believe that will be honored why?

Is it even honored today? Or is that the reason we are seeing this "opt-in" feature activated as default across all accounts?

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So if I'm getting this right,

my friendly neighborhood supermarket wants me to live in a transparent house so they can check the contents of my fridge and, based on that, give me this super awesome deal that they're not ready to say what yet. I don't even have to do anything because apparently they already opted me in by default since I shopped there. How convenient!

I'm feeling a little uncomfortable though. But hey, I can opt out, right? Right! But only from the super advanced robot that they're making. Their super friendly human employees can still check in on my now opted-out, non-transparent house and check my fridge personally.

This might sound like a gross over simplification but I can tell you that this is how most people are reading it. There's an irrational fear in being known or unraveled in humans and no amount of saying "We only do it with your permission" will change their minds after you presented the idea that you will be (actively or otherwise) looking into them. The fact that you're opting everyone in automatically doesn't help.

I don't have much sensitive, or damning, or personal stuff in my account but imagine the ones that do. People won't care if your employees are unfeeling robots that won't care about the content they see. People simply don't want other people to see what's in their head. And this update doesn't exactly help to strengthen the trust people have put on you.

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I've dumped ES File Explorer on my Android because of their overreaching, and it's a shame, but it looks like Evernote is going to have to go, too.

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This is a very disturbing update after a few years of mostly underwhelming updates from Evernote.  I've been a paying customer for a long time and if this goes into effect I have no reason to stay with this service. The wording of the update makes it pretty clear there is no way to opt out of the employees reading the data.

There is no reason the developers need access for the Machine Learning part, and if they do then they should be asking the user for details and not just going into user data. If anything Evernote should be working on increasing privacy not making it easier for governments to get access to user data. A feature that encrypts a notebook with a user created password would be ideal and shouldn't be all that hard to implement. It would be easier than the machine learning and it seems many more users would want that feature.

There are plenty of other options out there for note taking and there are plenty of guides to moving to them from Evernote. I used to have such a high opinion of this company but it's at the point where I have no trust that they know what they are doing. 

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One day Evernote will be used by Marketing teachers as a case study in how not to manage a company. I genuinely thought that things would get better when Libin left, but instead the ability to shoot itself in the foot at every turn has become an epidemic.

I'm sure they have 'professionals' working for them, but I really wonder if they even consider talking to any users before making this sort of change and then messaging it so badly.

Context was a massively hyped change, they probably spent quite a lot of money building it and I'd switched it off within a couple of days because let's face it, it's useless. Going to opt out now from what I'm guessing will be equally useless for me. 

I guess I'm one of the longest standing users, I was on Shard 1 until the recent Google move. I've been a big fan, advocate and defender over the years, this latest change just smells bad, really bad and although I won't be writing a forum suicide note, I think I'll be seriously looking for an alternative or set of alternatives as I'm not sure this is a tool or company that I want to invest any more time, money or trust in.

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I just read about Evernote's privacy policy and how it allows its employees to read our notes. I've been a paying customer for a few years, and I am outraged.

I know that no one at Evernote will read my post on their forums. If they cared, they'd let me email them directly. But this will be my last year of using your app if you don't change this policy. 

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the approach Evernote is talking here is very sad.

Evernote has been a very personal thing for me, as it is probably for a lot of people that store everything in it.

It is not acceptable how Evernote handles this!

You should be working on protecting my data from everybody, even from yourself. You should strive to make it even for you impossible to read my data.
I don't feel I can trust you to keep my data save, be it from yourself or governments (especially if I think about the president elect in the US) or whoever.

Your new privacy policy makes it all to clear, that everything beyond the most trivial data should not be in Evernote.

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46 minutes ago, Metrodon said:

One day Evernote will be used by Marketing teachers as a case study in how not to manage a company. I genuinely thought that things would get better when Libin left, but instead the ability to shoot itself in the foot at every turn has become an epidemic.

I'm not clever enough to analyze company management, but they have certainly P.O.'d users and generated negative news.  None of it's upsets me much, but you have to wonder whats coming next

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I'm not happy about this new development, and will probably opt out. I'm even less happy about the incompetent way in which it was originally communicated, and that it's opt-out instead of opt-in. But if we're going to make sensible decisions about opting in or out, or leaving Evernote, we need to at least read what they're saying. @benmc's response here makes it clear that employees are not going to be reading data with our names and account information attached to it; the transparent-house metaphor doesn't hold up, and our personal data will not be associated with us:

Quote

The change we are making, effective in January, is to allow an additional, small group of engineers to have access to some note content in order to oversee machine learning development. In this use case, we also do the following to further protect your privacy:

 

De-Linking - We remove the identifying account information from any notes that we review as part of Machine Learning. This means we don’t know which account created a specific note.  

 

Aggregation - Where possible, we also aggregate note data so that we are seeing summaries of note data and not specific note content

The other thing this shows is that this:

41 minutes ago, kedmond said:

I know that no one at Evernote will read my post on their forums.

is obviously incorrect, as indeed Ben indicated elsewhere:

From what I can see from the messages posted here, the really significant concerns are:

  • If you have data in Evernote that would cause harm to your business or to you personally if anyone ever saw it, whether or not your personal or business identity was associated with it, this is going to be a serious problem. That's not a very hard scenario to imagine.
  • The advantages hardly seem worth Evernote's effort in creating them: I doubt that machine learning or artificial intelligence can tell me anything about what I'm doing that I don't already know, or couldn't find with ordinary organizational and search methods. If I'm wrong, Evernote needs to show that. Otherwise I'm going to opt out, feel comfortable about my data and leave my Evernote experience ... unenhanced.
  • The original communication was, once again, horribly done: so vague and unclear that users were, necessarily or unnecessarily, alarmed, and Evernote employees have been forced to jump in and shovel to try to uncover for us what's really happening. Why was that original notice formulated as an FAQ? How could they possibly know what the frequently asked questions were until after they'd made the announcement? Look through this nearly-100-post thread: these are the frequently-asked-questions!

So, please, my fellow-alarmees, read the posts from Ben I've linked to above and then judge whether you're really at risk, and whether the benefits (if any) are worth the risk. There are real concerns; but Evernote is not trying to expose our data to the world.

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Paying user since 2011. I have to agree that this latest communication regarding my data is unwelcome. Unfortunately, in today's world, we know better than to just trust the ability to opt out. This is what you are really asking from us.

For me the only acceptable solution is notebook encryption. I believe this is one of the most requested features of all time from your user base. I can work around annoying changes in functionality but not the security of my data. I had the same issue with dropbox and eventually had to leave and move to a service (Sync.com) that was secure with zero knowledge of my data.

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@Dave-in-Decatur Part of the problem for me is that De-Linking doesn't really assure any safety. Linkage Attacks are common and easy (that "un-de-link" - if you will) AND sensitive information can be in the note content itself (patent ideas, medical history, etc). As you said, I don't see what Evernote is purposing to offer in exchange of the elevated access to our data. And I am specifically picking on the technical details because I feel like the communication from Evernote so far has aimed to placate - just throwing out two technical terms to make us feel safe.

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Evernote, you should have used your employee's notes to test machine learning.

At least, you should have asked users to participate in the process, not add all users and making no way out.

I'm leaving evernote and will not come back ever.

Even if this policy does not take effect, I think you will do things like this in the future anyway.

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Yet another voice to add to the chorus that Evernote is failing with this new policy. Bye bye Evernote, we had a few good years. So sorry to see you shoot yourself in the foot.

- a paying customer

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Just opted out. I've been an Evernote premium user since 2009, and just passed 30,000 notes. I do NOT want to have to find another application to do EN's job. What I find most surprising about this change is that with the announcement about the move to Google's servers, EN also proudly announced that notes will be encrypted at rest. I thought that was a sign that management took our concerns about security and privacy seriously (or at least understood it was a marketing problem). I appreciate that there is an option to opt out of the machine-learning tool, but I'm more concerned that anyone thought it was a good idea to push through a change that includes employees reading note content without a specific, limited reason or express customer authorization. 

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