Original Story: Another popular app has come under fire for its questionable use of customers' information. Note-taking application Evernote has updated its policies to let its employees read users’ content. The reason for this invasion of privacy is to improve the company’s machine learning technology.
“This is primarily to make sure that our machine learning technologies are working correctly, in order to surface the most relevant content and features to you. While our computer systems do a pretty good job, sometimes a limited amount of human review is simply unavoidable in order to make sure everything is working exactly as it should,” reads the update.
The company says consumers and enterprise customers can opt out of having their notes examined for machine learning purposes, but doing so will mean they won’t get the most out of the Evernote experience.
Evernote assures users that employees who have access to their data are subject to background checks and receive specific security and privacy training “at least annually.” It doesn’t, however, mention anything about anonymizing the content.
But what’s really riled up Evernote fans is that even if customers do opt out, employees will still be able to look at their content for “for other reasons.” The company’s head of Comms, Greg Chiemingo, explained to Forbes: “...staff only access [customer content] to diagnose and troubleshoot errors or comply with legal requests from law enforcement."
For desktop users who want to ensure their notes remain private, Evernote suggests using the text encryption option. The FAQ claims no one would be able to decrypt the text without the password.
Using customer data to improve machine learning systems is something Google does with its Allo messaging app. When not using incognito mode, user messages are permanently stored on the company’s servers to improve the smart reply feature.
Following revelations that Uber allegedly spied on its customers, and WhatsApp's sharing of customer data with parent Facebook, an increasing number of consumers are concerned about just how private their information is.