You need an account to use RemNote and that is a red flag for us. A free note-taking app that requires you to sign in is always questionable but web apps have normalised this. We thought to get this out of the way, before reviewing RemNote. Here are some interesting terms and conditions to note when using RemNote, according to their terms:
- “Although we perform regular routine backups of data, you are solely responsible for all data that you transmit or that relates to any activity you have undertaken using the Site. You agree that we shall have no liability to you for any loss or corruption of any such data, and you hereby waive any right of action against us arising from any such loss or corruption of such data.” This basically means that if you lost your notes, RemNote can’t help you. Our question becomes; why then take on the responsibility to store users’ notes and data on your servers? Why not let users keep their notes on their devices, since you don’t want to be responsible for what happens to them if they are lost or corrupted?
- “We may process your data when it is reasonably necessary to achieve our legitimate business interests.” We are curious to know what those legitimate business interests are.
- “By submitting Content or any other material to RemNote for inclusion on the Service or for any other purpose, for example posting a study set, answering a survey or sending RemNote an email, you grant RemNote a world-wide, perpetual, royalty-free license (with right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display, and distribute such Content or material in any and all media or distribution methods (existing or subsequently developed). additional uses by RemNote, or other companies or individuals who partner with RemNote, may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, or otherwise make available to RemNote or through the Service.”
Notion could be safer than RemNote
We’ve had issues with Notion, but RemNote seems worse than Notion. At least Notion has the decency to have comprehensive Personal Use Terms of Service that address how they manage your content on their site. That’s never made us trust them with our notes, but RemNote has one point for that! This a very short paragraph that you might actually miss. For an app that saves your notes on its servers, they have conveniently skipped what happens to those notes. Users have a right to know:
- how their content is stored
- where it is stored
- what happens to it, beyond the license clause of the Terms of Service.
- how long it stays on RemNote servers when they have deleted it
- copyright terms for users’ notes
- privacy and protection of that content
Be an informed digital note-taker
But then again, only governments and organisations seem to care about user information. End users themselves don’t mind sharing any information online, about anything really. Developers are taking advantage of that, and we just hope it doesn’t come back to bite us in the future. No matter what other users are doing, research the apps you’re using, especially web apps that store data on the developer’s servers.
How to use RemNote safely
Naturally, we would advise you to use an app that doesn’t ‘harvest’ your information (most native apps don’t) but that milk has already spilt if you’re already using RemNote. We’re not going to stop cautioning users though, perhaps it can help a few. For all these note-taking web apps storing your notes on their servers, please use them cautiously (for non-sensitive information only).
The safest way to use RemNote is to use a local knowledge base. It gives us some piece of mind that they have given us the option to keep our notes on our devices. However, we can’t sync these notes and that’s not because it’s impossible to do so without their servers; no, they have purposefully designed it that way. We hope the developers will give users the ability to sync their notes through third-party cloud services. It will be a good step towards building trust.