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Evernote CEO defends its new machine learning privacy polices

The CEO of Evernote has responded to concerns about the note taking service's upcoming privacy changes for its machine learning features.

Published onDecember 15, 2016

Earlier this week, the popular note-taking service Evernote announced some upcoming changes in its privacy policies, which included the fact that some employees could read the notes posted by its customers. Today, the CEO of the company, Chris O’Neill, responded to those concerns in an official statement, and admitted that the changes were “communicated poorly, and it resulted in some understandable confusion.”

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In a blog post, O’Neill said that a small number of Evernote employees will only look at the notes posted by customers in “very limited cases.” Those include situations in the current version of its Privacy Policy such as possible violations of the company’s Terms of Service, troubleshooting issues that are requested by users, protection against malware or other security issues and responding to “warrants, court orders or other legal process.” O’Neill added:

The number of employees who are authorized to view this content is extremely limited by our existing policies, and I am personally involved in defining them.

The biggest change to Evernote’s policies will officially go into effect on January 23. The company says that its new machine learning features, which are designed to automate functions, will need a certain degree of human interaction to work well. On that date, the policy changes state that any customer who opt into these features may have their note content viewed by some employees. Customers will have the option to opt out of these machine learning features.

O’Neill stated that a small number of employees “may see random content” when conducting checks on the machine learning feature, but he added that those workers will not know who created those notes. Finally, he claims that if any personal info comes up in these random checks, it will be masked from the view of the employees who see them.

Now that the head of Evernote has offered some more detail on its privacy changes, will you continue to use the service or will you abandon it for a competitor?

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