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‘Never mind,’ says Evernote about its controversial new privacy policy

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Carlos Vega/Digital Trends
After realizing that users do not, in fact, want Evernote employees to be able to read their private thoughts and musings, the popular note-taking app has backtracked on its controversial new privacy policy.

This week, Evernote blogged about its plans to change its privacy policy that would make user content decidedly less private, by allowing certain of its employees to read entries “for the purposes of developing and improving the Evernote service.” Initially, changes were slated to roll out in January, specifically those that would allow “employees to exercise oversight of machine learning technologies applied to account content … primarily to make sure that [Evernote’s] machine learning technologies are working correctly.”

Needless to say, the internet was not pleased, and now, Evernote is saying, “Never mind.”

On Thursday, following a rather severe backlash from much of the digital community, which accused the new policy of being “disgraceful,” among other choice words, Evernote issued a retraction. “We’ve heard your comments and we are not making the changes to our Privacy Policy that we’d previously announced,” Evernote assured its angry user base. “We apologize for any angst we caused, and we remain as committed as ever to keeping privacy at the heart of everything we do. Over the coming months, we will be revising our existing Privacy Policy to reaffirm this commitment.”

Perhaps more alarming is the fact that previous to this proposed change, Evernote employees were already able to access some user content (but they just did so more … surreptitiously). Now that the firm has drawn attention to this practice, however, it is taking steps to assuage its users’ fears. For one, you’ll have to opt in to allow employees read your notes for machine learning purposes. And moreover, Evernote CEO Chris O’Neill has issued an apology, admitting, “We announced a change to our privacy policy that made it seem like we didn’t care about the privacy of our customers or their notes. This was not our intent, and our customers let us know that we messed up, in no uncertain terms. We heard them, and we’re taking immediate action to fix it.”

In a lengthy mea culpa, the executive concluded, “We are excited about what we can offer Evernote customers thanks to the use of machine learning, but we must ask for permission, not assume we have it. We’re sorry we disappointed our customers, and we are reviewing our entire privacy policy because of this.”

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