Evernote reverses privacy policy that allows employees to read users’ notes

Evernote has walked back a controversial new privacy policy that allowed its staff to read content created by its users.

The change was proposed as part of a push towards machine learning to “help you get the most out of your Evernote experience.” It allowed Evernote employees to read through users’ notes in order to ensure that the machine learning technology was working as promised. Users could opt out of machine learning, but there was no way to get out of having notes made available for potentially being read by staff.

Unsurprisingly, Evernote users were up in arms at the change, so it isn’t surprising that it has taken barely a day for the company to step up and cancel it well ahead of its proposed introduction in January.

Now, Evernote said that machine learning will be available for users, but they will have to explicitly opt in to making their notes available for reading — which the company still believes offers benefits for users.

Evernote CEO Chris O’Neill said the company had “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,” he continued. “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.”

Evernote has done the right thing quickly here, but it does make you wonder how the policy got approved and out of the door in the first place.