{"API Evangelist"}

Evernote: Reaffirming Our Commitment to Your Privacy

A couple of weeks back, the online note-taking platform Evernote made a significant blunder of releasing a privacy policy update that revealed they would be reading our notes to improve their machine learning algorithms.  It is something they have since rolled back with the following statement "Reaffirming Our Commitment to Your Privacy":

Evernote recently announced a change to its privacy policy and received a lot of customer feedback expressing concerns. We’ve heard that feedback and we apologize for the poor communication.We have decided not to move forward with those changes that would have taken effect on January 23, 2017. Instead, in the coming months we will be revising our existing Privacy Policy. The main thing to know is this: your notes remain private, just as they’ve always been.

Evernote employees have not read, and do not read, your note content. We only access notes under strictly limited circumstances: where we have your permission, or to comply with our legal obligations.Your privacy, and your trust in Evernote are the most important things to us. They are at the heart of our company, and we will continue to focus on that now and in the future.

While I am thankful for their change of heart, I wanted to take a moment to point out the wider online environment that incentivizes this type of behavior. This isn't a single situation with Evernote reading our notes, this is the standard mindset for startups operating online, and via our mobile devices in 2017. This is just one situation that was called out, resulting in a change of heart by the platform. Our digital bits are being harvested in the name of machine learning and artificial intelligence across the platforms we depend on daily for our business and personal lives. 

In these startup's quest for profit, and ultimately their grand exit, they are targeting our individual and business bits. Use this free web application. Use this free mobile application. Plug this device in at home on your network. Let our machine learning evaluate your database for insights. Let me read your most personal and intimate thoughts in your diary, journal, and notebook. I will provide you with entertainment, convenience, and insight that you would never be able to achieve on your own, without the magic of artificial intelligence.

In my experience, the position a company takes on their API provides an early warning system for these situations. Evernote sent all the wrong signals to their developer community years ago, letting me know it was not a platform I could depend on, and trust for my business operations, let alone my personal, private thoughts. I was able to get off the platform successfully, but the trick in all of this is identifying other platforms who are primed for making similar decisions and helping the average users understand the motives behind all of these "solutions" we let into our lives, so they can make an educated decision on their own.