back to article Kids, look at the Deep Learnings! (We’re just going to slurp your data)

Just weeks after Evernote announced that it is migrating users’ data from its own servers to Google’s servers, the company has now casually dropped a privacy bombshell. In order for some (unspecified) occult AI magic to work in the future, your data will be merged with other data. Oh. And Evernote staff can read all your notes …

  1. roomey

    +1 for Naked Lunch reference. Had great fun as a teen attempting to read that book

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Is it as far out as Dhalgren?

      1. Barry Rueger

        Dhalgren

        +1 for Dhalgren reference, in reference to Naked Lunch.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I read it as a teen and I'm only just recovering!

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    But it’s only a “a very small number” of staff. So that’s all right.

    Only a small number. Where have I read that before?

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      A book on best practise?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What. The Naked Lunch?!

    2. Wibble

      Yahooo's!! security meeting?

  3. frank ly

    Understatement

    "I keep a lot of sensitive stuff in Evernote, including interviews with anonymous sources. This is bad."

    It certainly is. Didn't you encrypt it?

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Understatement

      Forgiven. I just had a "ow fuck what did I post on Twitter" moment with Evernote too.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "There are open source alternatives you can host for yourself, but setting this up is beyond the skillset of the average user."

    Presumably you're thinking in terms of Owncloud/Nextcloud. There are a number of businesses which will host a service for you so you don't need to set one up yourself. You can take your pick of whatever you think is the country with the best attitude to privacy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah but how long

      are they going to remain honest ? Sooner or later they're going to be tempted to help themselves to your personal information.

      1. moiety

        Re: Yeah but how long

        Seafile is another one but you need root to install it. Or -for just keeping notes as opposed to files- there's NoteCase Pro. All can be encrypted, as can MyOwnCloud

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Yeah but how long

        Good question.

        Firstly AFAIK Evernote is Freemium which always raises the possibility of "you're the product" whereas the sites I'm thinking of are essentially paid for hosting sites which is a very different business model. Secondly there's a choice of several EU countries plus Switzerland which provide very different legislative environments to the US - and data protection in the EU is due to get stronger still in 2018. Thirdly https://docs.nextcloud.com/server/9.0/user_manual/files/encrypting_files.html

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Next cloud sells appliances with pre-installed images. One of those is a hard drive + power supply + SD card + case. You just add the Raspberry Pi. So it's getting there.

    3. cd

      Not that I used Evernote, amused that people still trust the Si Valley Psychos © with anything personal.

      Article prompted me to look at the cpanel interface on my lowly shared server account. Softalicious will install Owncloud with a few clicks, although I'd suggest mods from the default directory names for the app and the data. Mere minutes and I have my own cloud. who'da thought?

      There are better ways if you don't need the app, remote editing text processor for one. Of all the sites that ought to have no Evernote users, this ought to be one of them.

  5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    “Also, we’ll be using data from other sources to tailor your Evernote experience,” the company added, vaguely.

    Thanks, but no thanks.

    I will be terminating my Evernote experience, effective immediately.

    A big thanks to El Reg for bringing this to my attention.

    1. silentmovie

      And after terminating your account, how much control over "your" data on their backups will you have?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once again, encrypting data before storing it outside your control

    would seem as good an idea as it was a year ago. Or five years ago. Or ten years ago. Or whenever, really.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Once again, encrypting data before storing it outside your control

      I really liked Wuala for that reason, before Seagate bought them and shut them down.

  7. malle-herbert
    Terminator

    Listen, and understand !

    Google is out there ! It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop... ever, until all your data is theirs !

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Listen, and understand !

      This sounds more like "The Color out of Space".

      Do not ask me for my opinion. I do not know—that is all. There was no one but Ammi to question; for Arkham people will not talk about the strange days, and all three professors who saw the aërolite and its coloured globule are dead. There were other globules—depend upon that. One must have fed itself and escaped, and probably there was another which was too late. No doubt it is still down the well—I know there was something wrong with the sunlight I saw above that miasmal brink. The rustics say the blight creeps an inch a year, so perhaps there is a kind of growth or nourishment even now. But whatever daemon hatchling is there, it must be tethered to something or else it would quickly spread. Is it fastened to the roots of those trees that claw the air? One of the current Arkham tales is about fat oaks that shine and move as they ought not to do at night.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Listen, and understand !

      Google controls Evernote? Thanks, I had no idea!

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Listen, and understand !

        No, Google's infrastructure runs Evernote.

        Not the same as "controls".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Listen, and understand !

          > No, Google's infrastructure runs Evernote.

          > Not the same as "controls".

          Yes. It's probably worse.

    3. cd

      Re: Listen, and understand !

      What we need is for everyone to write and save porn stories about the Google founders. I narrate them into my Android phone, esp. while in the bathroom so I have good background sound effects.

      You wouldn't believe what those Google founders get up to. Really sick stuff, and they do it over and over (as long as I'm regular). You'd think they'd get sick of it after a while.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Listen, and understand !

        I know for a fuckt that you never get totally sick of sick stuff.

    4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Listen, and understand ! / It's out there

      Reminds me of Forbidden Planet. It's out there, and we created it ourselves, and it can destroy us. Hmm... Nuke it from orbit?

  8. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Once again, The Cloud...

    Anything but a silver lining.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Once again, The Cloud...

      Exactly. This can NEVER be repeated enough: you trust the cloud and you will be fucked.

  9. m0rt Silver badge

    Marvin Minskly - co-inventer of the Triadex Muse.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0r8RRkjOkE0

    Oh yeah, sorry. Evernote. Company decides that since you use their services, they can do what the fsck they want with your data.

    Screw you, Evernote.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Marv was pretty cool. One of the old-school "AI scruffies".

      I don't know how to read him being mentioned in this piece though.

  10. Badger Murphy
    FAIL

    No privacy at any price

    What I find the most baffling about these slurpy organizations is their seemingly willful failure to understand that some users are turned off by the lack of privacy, but do otherwise like their services, and would gladly pay for a private version.

    For example, its hard to argue that Gmail is one of the better email server implementations, but I can not get a private account, even for $1,000,000/year. I can't see this as anything other than a failure to recognize a money making opportunity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We're cooking a great big tureen of frog soup here

      So if a few frogs look restless then the thing we do is turn the heat down for a wee bit. Offer one frog the chance to hop out, next thing you know it's croaking (or tweeting) about how pleasant the change was, then all the frogs start getting ideas of their own, then no soup at all. Nope, say something soothing, stir less briskly, wait for them to adjust to the "new normal", then put the burners back on blast!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Badger Murphy - Re: No privacy at any price

      Failure to make money you say ? Au contraire, mon ami! You're worth way much more than your money.

    3. Orv Silver badge

      Re: No privacy at any price

      Google will if you're a big enough entity with enough bargaining power. I've known of a couple universities that negotiated privacy provisions as part of their GMail hosting. But you're right, they could trivially sell this to individuals for a decent amount of money, but don't.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: No privacy at any price

      "For example, its hard to argue that Gmail is one of the better email server implementations, but I can not get a private account"

      You can get a private account by going to a provider who specialises in running paid-for mail services as their business and it will cost you a lot less than $1,000,000 pa. Don't forget, with Google you're the product and it you're the product it's hard to argue that it's even a good implementation let alone one of the better.

    5. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: No privacy at any price

      I really, really wish I didn't have to use gmail, but the ISPs in my city either block or continually move the ports for email.

      I gave up years ago.

      1. pogul

        Re: No privacy at any price

        What on earth are you talking about? You don't have to use gmail - there's plenty of other webmail out there, both paid for and "free". I personally have started paying for email again, because I want to be the *customer*. I use Fastmail and love the webmail interface, the IMAP implementation is great etc. etc. I've also deleted my Facebook account this week and started using DuckDuckGo instead of Google search. Yes, I know my tinfoil hat seems odd to some, but I have to say, I'm feeling much happier for it.

        1. GrapeBunch Silver badge

          Re: No privacy at any price

          My impression of DuckDuckGo is that the results look like they are headed by entities that have paid for the privilege. Since we've had Naked Lunch and Dhalgren in this thread, let's not forget TANSTAAFL. I use DDG only for searches that contain the word temor or something like that, because I'm afraid.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    That Uber SVP side link - just, wow!

    Uber’s dirt-diggers, Michael said, could expose Lacy. They could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life.

    Michael at no point suggested that Uber has actually hired opposition researchers, or that it plans to. He cast it as something that would make sense, that the company would be justified in doing.

    Generally "stalking" by a Silicon Valley company means trying to Facebook friend, etc, but in Uber's case there's the fine prospect of making it physical: I know where you were last summer... But luckily it's all ok because "The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner ... do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach." I just love the slimy "attributed to me" - if they were actually false he'd say so. Yet another case of "I'm terribly sorry ... that I was caught". This would be the same Uber that was lately in the news for having its app continue to track the user location for a while after the ride's over. Or maybe if you make them upset, the ride's never over? For the customer's benefit of course: what's good for Silicon Valley is good for you. Share and Enjoy!

  12. John 104

    What Evernote has done is reveal the arrogance and moral bankruptcy of a Silicon Valley, a culture that neither respects humans, nor the things we create. It's all “data” for their machines, and they're driven by a higher purpose: intelligent machines.

    Yup. The arrogance there is staggering actually.

    Oh, and I'll be closing out my evernote as well. Idiots.

    Sad truth is, most of their user base will blindly continue using it because, hey, this is neat. And free!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When will people learn

    that putting anything 'out' there is a big juicy target for the hackers, data slurpers and ad men.

    With Google involved as well. Sheesh. Isn't that warning enough?

    Their deep AI system will be chomping at the bit to get its teeth into your nice Evernote data.

    Get off Social Media

    Get off Gmail and/or Hotmail.

    Keep your data to yourself.

    Starve the slurpers of their lifeblood.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EverNot today, but your vms in the Azure Cloud are safe, right?

    You FOOLS! The first thing I needed on my device was a note taking app. I stumbled onto Evernote, AKA Evernot, and the clues were right there for me to see and take the proper action to avoid it; it was from Microsoft, and you had to sign up to get it to work, and it forced the notes to their cloud. Simple as RPi... avoid that shit. I chose Color Note and have not had a problem with being marketed to by a clumsy bunch of cloud-happy assholes.

    You think your Azure Cloud VM is safe from prying eyes? HA! You're a fucking idiot, you are.

    When you host your own data, you're mostly safe. When you let some company host it, you are under their control and auspices. And then to the company they sell it to, or the company that gets it after their bankruptcy. Don't be stupid, you dummies!

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    One day all these slurpy companies will be swept away by the superior preditor in the space

    The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

    Share and Enjoy (all of your data with us).

    But seriously SysOps have always had that power. And without end to end encryption they always will.

    Not to mention it's on servers in a country where THE PATRIOT Act is still viewed as rather a good thing by the government.

  16. RedPills

    Inevitable

    I'm surprised by the surprise. Why did this ever need to be a cloud based service anyway? Can it be that hard to synchronize between devices securely without perpetual web based storage? Why do few if any companies seem to be interested in offering that as an option. The fact that Evernote never did, told me that they had no interest in privacy, and that their user base wouldn't be savvy enough to mistrust their data management. After kicking the tires on Evernote years ago, I concluded that note-taking didn't need a minor paradigm shift at the cost of privacy, intentional or accidental.

    "Sometimes the old ways are the best "

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Inevitable

      "Why did this ever need to be a cloud based service anyway?"

      For a lot of use cases I don't see the point. The common point of contact is the user. User has portable device and base computer, records data on portable device whilst away from base, has no access to base computer at that time & hence doesn't need it synced at that time. user returns to base with portable device and only now can use base computer but portable and base are now within BT/LAN/USB cable distance and can be synced.

      The use cases I can see this making sense are non-portable work and home computers (but even then a portable device can intermediate) or needing a backup for the portable device whilst still away from base. This last sounds like something a journalist could need but wouldn't it require encryption whilst in transit at the very least?

  17. David 132 Silver badge
    Windows

    Excellent quote.

    "What Evernote has done is reveal the arrogance and moral bankruptcy of a Silicon Valley, a culture that neither respects humans, nor the things we create. It's all “data” for their machines, and they're driven by a higher purpose: intelligent machines."

    Bingo. A thousand upvotes for this.

    Except I'd venture that to be more accurate, you should replace "intelligent machines" with "greater profits".

    This is why I have a deep-seated aversion to the cloud, and am hollowly, bitterly resentful of the way the IT industry has gone in the last handful of years - whereas before, the ethos was "let's get cool technology into peoples' hands to empower them", now it's "let's bribe people with trinkets so we can harvest as much as possible of their data and milk them for recurring revenue".

    I'm not so deluded as to think that profit was not a motive in the past - that's how people eat and support themselves, and I don't think profit is intrinsically bad - but what we're seeing is this shift from "get rich by giving people control" to "get rich by taking as much control as possible away from people".

    Just my opinion. I'd be interested to hear differing views.

    The icon is me - bitter, twisted and cranky, yelling at the kids to get their Agile DevOps Cloud SaaS stuff off my lawn.

  18. tfb Silver badge

    If only they understood their own business model

    I'm mostly happy with the 'if you don't pay then you're the product' idea: if I don't want to be the product, I pay. I paid for Evernote for that reason. But they still tried to force their loathsome store on me: it turns out that even if you pay you are the product. I'm only glad I got out a while before this latest fuckwittery. Of course, people who use it seriously are now fucked: it's going to take them weeks to pull all their notes into some other system (it took me days), so they probably will just live with it, and the bad guys win again.

  19. anoco

    All your thoughts are belong to us.

    Love when I agree with Andrew. Very articulate and smart guy.

    About this line "There are open source alternatives you can host for yourself, but setting this up is beyond the skillset of the average user."

    How about giving us the names you had in mind?

    1. moiety

      Re: All your thoughts are belong to us.

      https://owncloud.org (note .org...the .com has a few enterprise toys and they charge for it). This is probably the easiest to deal with and you can install it on shared hosting

      https://www.seafile.com/en/download/ (You need root to install this, so not shared hosting, but they do do a Raspberry Pi version)

      ...there's some more here:

      https://www.cyberciti.biz/cloud-computing/7-awesome-open-source-cloud-storage-software-for-your-privacy-and-security/

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: All your thoughts are belong to us.

        "https://owncloud.org " forked to https://github.com/nextcloud

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cloud

    "There is no cloud. It's just someone else's computer."

    Evernote is using cloud computing to save your data, so you should expect limited control of your data. Just like any other 'Free' cloud services. Also, Evernote users should be backuping up their data since saving on cloud is not really a backup. If their server failed or require a rollback, you lose if not most but all data.

    On the other hand, is there a reason to even use Evernote? It looks just like a better organized email or dropbox. If the note taking part is important, there are plenty of alternative solutions with apps that can save notes 'locally'. You can easily sync local files to a pc with a cable.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Cloud

      I've been experimenting with these things to see if they are really useful and most of them come out around 3/10. I personally prefer Zim (4/10) cos its basically piss-easy and nearly does what is needed and you can get web-pages at the end of it and even its shitty little web server means its actually pretty useful as an educational tool.

      It seems good enough to actually help design, build and document what I hope will be its replacement which is a full-blown HTML5 wysiwyg front end on a nice database backend which will allow deep learnings of your own choice. If I ever finish the 1200 page book on deep learning that is!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    can someone please disrupt Evernote

    do a text-only version – notebooks, of notes, made of text – stored in Switzerland and encrypted end to end, and readable on any device (Evernote basic package now limits you to 2 devices, just to get you to upgrade).

    if that was a tenner a year I bet that would disrupt Evernote big time...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: can someone please disrupt Evernote

      "if that was a tenner a year"

      Not in Switzerland.

  22. Updraft102 Silver badge

    Either your data is under your direct control, or it isn't. If it isn't, be prepared for those who do have direct control over it to change the rules, get hacked, suffer a leak, sell their business to a company you don't trust, or any other of a plethora of things you'd rather not happen. If it's not securely encrypted before you send it out there on the net, it's out there on the net.

  23. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    "If you want to opt out, you can do so in your account settings"

    Do that.

    Not that I would trust these guys, but if you are already one of their hostages...

  24. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Already left after last trick

    I don't use this kind of service for anything confidential or personal. I'm wary of putting anything like that on someone else's server. So when Evernote limited the number of devices we can share across it, a few months ago, I moved to Onenote 2016. Because I want to share odd jottings, reminders etc across a phone, two PCs and a tablet. And anything there Microsoft are welcome to read. (I have a nice list of restaurants I have visited on it- if Microsoft staff want a nice lunch..........)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open Source, free hosted solution

    Try https://framanotes.org/

    The mobile app is good and open source.

    1. unpale

      Re: Open Source, free hosted solution

      AFAICT framanotes is 'online only', ie no offline editing?

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