Evernote Privacy Policy Change Gives Employees Access to Your Notes

Evernote has announced a policy change that goes into effect on January 27, 2017.  In that change, the company outlines that a limited number of Evernote employees could access and read your notes as part of their “oversight of machine learning” that the company has deployed.  And, more or less, you can’t do much about it.  The company has provided an opt-out for this new machine learning process but even if you opt-out, employees could still access your notes.

Not cool on so many different levels.

So first, not every employee can access your notes.  The list is small but there is a bit of a mystery as to what gets an employee on that list and how often they could access your information.  In the broader Privacy Policy of Evernote, they list the following as reasons that your account could be accessed by employees:

  • We believe our Terms of Service has been violated and confirmation is required or we otherwise have an obligation to review your account Content as described in our Terms of Service;
  • We need to do so for troubleshooting purposes or to maintain and improve the Service;
  • Where necessary to protect the rights, property or personal safety of Evernote and its users (including to protect against potential spam, malware or other security concerns); or
  • In order to comply with our legal obligations, such as responding to warrants, court orders or other legal process. We vigilantly protect the privacy of your account Content and, whenever we determine it possible, we provide you with notice if we believe we are compelled to comply with a third party’s request for information about your account. Please visit our Information for Authorities page for more information.

The problem is, especially with the first three on this list, that could be left up to interpretation.  Basically an employee on this list could claim that they believe ToS is being violated and access your account.

If you opt-out of the machine learning, that turns that feature off but it doesn’t mean that employees still can’t access your account under the broader privacy terms of the company.

Evernote for Android
Evernote for Android

So what can you do?  First, you can do the opt-out but that doesn’t mean that they won’t ever look at your notes.  It is just less likely.  Two, you can password protect all your notes.  The problem is, you have to do this note-by-note.  You cannot do it at the notebook level.

Third, is the nuclear option and the option I selected.  Close your Evernote account.  I’ve been using Evernote at some level since 2011 until today.  I closed my account this afternoon after archiving all of my notes off of the service, moving them to Google Drive and then deleting them from my account.  I then deleted my account.  There are plenty of options out there for notes such as OneNote and Keep.

Don’t like this policy change?  Make your voice heard on social networks you participate in to let them know you don’t agree with it.  Evernote is on Twitter at @Evernote.