In a not-so-shocking turn of events, Evernote has reversed its privacy policy stance that I wrote about earlier. The company is not going to implement it and will instead make machine learning and human review opt-in — you know, the way it should have been from the get-go.

The CEO Chris O'Neill attempted to offer some clarification earlier today, which I found to be weak and ineffective. Evernote's policy stated that employees would be able to read user content, which the CEO then clarified to mean "snippets." Well, that whole thing about "specially trained" engineers reviewing the accuracy of the algorithms with your notes is getting scrapped... sort of. This new policy will be opt-in, instead of the non-negotiable it was before.

This is what you should have done in the first place, Evernote.

O'Neill flat admitted that his company messed up big time with this one. Not to beat a dead horse here, but Evernote really did not think this through too well. His words here in the blog post fit the situation perfectly.

“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. 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.”

I like this statement much more than the one he posted earlier today. This one shows that he is taking responsibility and is trying to put everyone at ease. While I know some users made an exodus from the service, perhaps this might convince some to come back.

The company has, once again, reiterated its dedication to its users' security. It has committed to:

  • Evernote employees do not and will not read your notes without your express permission.
  • Evernote complies with the law in ways that keep the privacy of customer data paramount.
  • Our “Three Laws of Data Protection” remain intact: your data is yours, it is protected, and it is portable.

So that's it. We have seen Evernote make a stupid mistake, try to dismiss it, then do a total 180. Be sure to check out the blog post or updated help page for more information, if you are so inclined.