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Evernote’s privacy policy lets its employees access your notes, with no opt out option – but it’s a bit more complicated than that


If you’re not interested in potentially sharing the content of your notes with Evernote employees, then your only option will be to leave the service, because you can’t opt out. While it appears that this policy has already been in motion for some time now, an upcoming January update to the privacy policy has placed a large spotlight on the issue.

To begin with, Evernote states that a limited subset of its employees will be able to read the content of customer notes. It also clearly states that customers cannot opt out.

The reasons that Evernote refers to are a part of an already in place privacy policy. In other words, if you use Evernote currently, you are already subject to having your notes accessed by company employees if the need arrises.


What is new, and what will be enacted on January 23, 2017, is a change that allows a limited set of Evernote employees to exercise oversight of machine learning tech applied to account content. Evernote is using this provision so that employees will be able to monitor the company’s machine learning efforts to ensure that the service is working as designed.

Evernote is allowing customers to opt out of its machine learning. To do so you’ll need to log in to your account, and uncheck the Improved Experience checkbox under Personal Settings.

evernote-machine-learningBut opting out of machine learning only prevents Evernote’s computers from processing your notes, and humans from reviewing the results from said machine learning. Human employees are still allowed to access notes for a variety of other reasons outlined in Evernote’s privacy policy.

Some provisions that allow employee access to your data include:

  • We believe it is necessary to investigate potential violations of our Terms of Service, to enforce the Terms of Service, or where we believe it is necessary to investigate, prevent or take action regarding illegal activities, suspected fraud or potential threats against persons, property or the systems on which we operate the Service.
  • We determine that the access, preservation or disclosure of information is required or permitted by law to protect the rights, property or personal safety of Evernote and users of the Service, or is required to comply with applicable laws, including compliance with warrants, court orders, subpoenas, legal process, or other lawful government requests (including in response to public authorities to meet national security or law enforcement requirements).
  • We do so in connection with the sale or reorganization of all or part of our business, as permitted by applicable law.

To be fair, Evernote isn’t giving access to all of its employees, as only a limited set will have the necessary privileges to read customer data. These new changes relate to monitoring machine learning activities in relation to customer data, but the employee access to data in a broader sense isn’t actually a new change, it’s apparently something that’s been present in the policy for some time now.

Nonetheless, this news coupled with the recent basic account limitations and price hikes, will surely leave a lot of customers looking elsewhere to store their note data. What about you?

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Jeff produces videos, walkthroughs, how-tos, written tutorials and reviews. He takes pride in being able to explain things in a simple, clear and concise manner.

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