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ANSWERED Automatic Stripping of Personal Information from Activity Log

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When there's a bug with Evernote, one of the standard responses is to request an activity log. However, these logs contain a large amount of personal data. From the request email: 

"The activity log also contains information about your account, your device, and your location information (if enabled). The titles of your notes, tags, notebooks, attached files, and, if your account was having network syncing errors, some of your note content, may also be contained in the activity log."

The amount of information in the activity log seems to have actually grown recently; if memory serves, it used to just be location and note titles, but now it's attached files and note content. That is a lot to ask people to share for simple support requests.

I've actually taken the time to edit activity logs a few times, and it can take up to an hour. Not only is this an unreasonable request for paying customers who are seeking support for bugs in Evernote, it also drastically reduces the amount of useful debugging information that your engineers receive to investigate and fix bugs, given that many people decide not to submit these logs due to the amount of personal information included.

My request, then, is to offer the option to strip logs of personalized data automatically. Looking at the activity log, it seems that this is a feasible option, though of course it would be work to implement. But there is standardized formatting for each line of the log, so a tool could be developed to simply parse the log and remove personal data.

For example, here's the format of every line dealing with synchronizing notebooks:

-[ENSyncEngine _synchronizeAccountsWithIds:processServerChanges:processLocalChanges:]  | Synchronizing joined notebook: df31de09-4c34-4e31-a744-e2bff277ecef 'Weekly Meals'

It seems reasonable that a simple 'Remove Personal Information' button on the activity log window could change that line to something like:

-[ENSyncEngine _synchronizeAccountsWithIds:processServerChanges:processLocalChanges:]  | Synchronizing joined notebook: df31de09-4c34-4e31-a744-e2bff277ecef '[Notebook Name Removed]'

Other types of personal information could be similarly stripped while preserving the timing and operation data of the log.

Anyway, I've been a Premium customer for something like 6+ years, and a huge amount of my life is managed in Evernote. It's a tool I love and evangelize to friends, and its functionality and stability have made great strides in the last few years after some rough patches. But when the odd bug does appear, I don't feel comfortable sharing as much personal data as the activity log contains. Maybe I'm paranoid, maybe it's an irrational concern -- I know intellectually that no one at Evernote is doing anything bad with this data -- but on some level privacy is privacy, even if there isn't anything ugly/secret to hide.

And I truly believe that allowing users to easily strip personal data from their activity log instead of requiring literally an hour of line-by-line hand-editing would benefit both customers and Evernote engineers, as you'd receive a lot more useful data for tracking down bugs.

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For some reason this thread is getting added at the very end of the forum. Hoping this bump will put it on the first page where new posts should go.

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Hey @E-NoteForum,

While your Evernote username and the names of notes, notebooks, tags, and attachments may be visible in the activity log, note content (including attachments) is never visible to Evernote staff. We use the activity logs to help troubleshoot sync and/or crash issues, so knowing the name/title of what is causing the issue helps to resolve the problem.

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@E-NoteForum, yes , you're right. I would like to report bugs through the reports but I always hesitate to do this even though only the names are visible to Evernote staff. 

I have noticed that these crash reports can get very long at times. I personally don't edit the report because it just takes too long. I know Evernote allows us to remove the names but for users especially the non-technical ones, it just takes too long. Even though I understand that users' privacy is respected to the fullest extent, knowing that my name data is visible induces hesitation to share.

Given that Evernote allows us to edit out the names on our own, I too believe they should give us an option to remove the names with just a single button. That might encourage users to file more bug reports. If it's hard for debugging, maybe Evernote could develop a way to understand which notes are related to which without the name. I am no computer engineer but I would appreciate it if Evernote gave us an option similar to what has been requested above.

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On 9/2/2016 at 0:24 PM, amanda_h said:

Hey @E-NoteForum,

While your Evernote username and the names of notes, notebooks, tags, and attachments may be visible in the activity log, note content (including attachments) is never visible to Evernote staff. We use the activity logs to help troubleshoot sync and/or crash issues, so knowing the name/title of what is causing the issue helps to resolve the problem.

1. The warning dialogue explicitly says note content can be visible: "The activity log also contains information about your account, your device, and your location information (if enabled). The titles of your notes, tags, notebooks, attached files, and, if your account was having network syncing errors, some of your note content, may also be contained in the activity log." So either the warning is wrong or you're mistaken about what is included.

2. Couldn't the name/title information be replaced with the note's unique indentifier number or something like that? A quick look at the log shows that notebooks already have an identifier that can be used in lieu of the notebook name. This is just a basic privacy thing; even if note content isn't visible, people probably don't want note titles like "Colonoscopy results" or "Racist things dad said at Thanksgiving" to be shared.

I think it's completely reasonable for people to not want to share a huge list of note titles when reporting bugs, especially since asking for an activity log is an almost automatic response to reporting any bug with Evernote.

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