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Evernote makes the right choice - now allows opt-out for use of user data.

December 16, 2016

Evernote makes the right choice - now allows opt-out for use of user data.

On Wednesday I published a post to the blog suggesting that Evernote users might want to consider switching to Samepage in light of changes Evernote made to their privacy policy. A day later, Evernote CEO Chris O'Neill released a blog post clarifying the changes, and it appears that Evernote is adding an opt-out for users who do not wish to participate in the program. This is great! We commend Evernote for providing additional information on the changes, and taking action in light of customer feedback.

As a technology company, we understand that new technologies are exciting, and that new technologies have the potential to add tremendous value to our users. We also understand that the realizing the value of many of these technologies relies on access to user data en masse.

Individuals and businesses around the world rely on cloud platforms, like ours, to store private information. Companies that provide these services have a duty to their users to protect that information because we believe that data belongs to the customer, not to the service.

While the argument could be made that Evernote should have included an opt-out from the beginning by taking action in response to criticism Evernote made the right choice for their users. Evernote is not the only company that faces challenges on how to handle customer data.

Remember when UBER wanted to collect user's locations even when that user was not using the app? The benefit is real, faster pick up times in exchange for your location data, but originally that benefit wasn't communicated well, and many customers were frustrated by what they thought was overbearing data acquisition.

It's possible to push for technological improvements in a way that respects user privacy. While some customers will certainly opt-out of data acquisition and analysis programs like Evernote's and UBER's, many more customers will choose to remain in these programs now that it's clear how their data will be used, and under what circumstances a human will be able to access their data.

If there's one thing that everyone should take away from these examples, it's to respect your user's right to control access to their data. There's no need to sneak features in. If the feature requires data access, just ask first. Let the user decide whether or not the benefit is worth sharing their data. If your company is doing their job right - you'll never have to worry about participation.