PSA: MoviePass App Tracks Where You Drive Before and After Movies

Globe with Tracking Data

MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe is super proud of how his company’s app is collecting data about you. In comments made at a March 2nd presentation March 2 during the Entertainment Finance Forum, Mr. Lowe the MoviePass app tracks where you drive before and after going to a theater, and all the other data they’re collecting.

To be fair, he asserted that his company isn’t selling that data, but is instead using it to market movies. But they are collecting it, and they aren’t disclosing that they are doing so in their privacy terms. TechCrunch noted that said privacy terms expressly state the app is not doing some of the things Mr. Lowe said it is.

Globe with Tracking Data
TMO’s Artist Rendition of MoviePass

Data Tracking R Us

Here’s the quote, in full, as first reported by MediaPlayNews:

We get an enormous amount of information. Since we mail you the card, we know your home address, of course, we know the makeup of that household, the kids, the age groups, the income. It’s all based on where you live. It’s not that we ask that. You can extrapolate that. Then because you are being tracked in your GPS by the phone, our patent basically turns on and off our payment system by hooking that card to the device ID on your phone, so we watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards, and so we know the movies you watch. We know all about you. We don’t sell that data. What we do is we use that data to market film.

“We know all about you.” I wasn’t there, but it sure sounds like he’s proud of that. And to be fair, they don’t know all about me, as I won’t be installing the app.

If you’re comfortable having companies track where you drive in exchange for discounted movies, you can download the app from the App Store and Google Play.

4 thoughts on “PSA: MoviePass App Tracks Where You Drive Before and After Movies

  • I just received an email from MoviePass that is directly relevant to this conversation.
    I think it explains things well and correctly.
    (BTW, I am a happy customer of MoviePass, so far.)

    “Dear MoviePass Members, Partners and Employees:

    While speaking at a conference in Los Angeles, through a mix of exuberance about our future and joking around, I mischaracterized how MoviePass locates our members and I need to fix that. It has raised a lot of concerns and I understand why.

    First and foremost, I apologize for these comments and the concern they caused. At MoviePass, we take customer privacy extremely seriously. I would like to eliminate any misconceptions that we’re collecting location related data.

    The MoviePass app currently uses standard location services capabilities on an opt-in basis. There are only two events that would prompt MoviePass to identify a member’s location. These include when a member requests to search for theaters nearby and when a member requests to check into a theater. Both events require both the app to be open and for the member to request the action.

    MoviePass does not track and has never tracked or collected data on the location of our members at any point when the app is not active. In our recent update with Apple, we removed the the background tracking capabilities. MoviePass does not use and has never used this feature.

    Our goal at MoviePass has always been to encourage people to see more movies as they were meant to be seen — in the theater. We want to make our service available at a price anyone can afford and everyone can enjoy. While we do create partnerships with theaters and studios in which we offer statistical data on ticket use and other trends, we never share our members’ identities or personal information or personal data with anyone.

    MoviePass takes its members’ privacy extremely seriously, and our current Terms of Use and Privacy Policy accurately state the ways in which we use data. If, in the future, MoviePass desires to expand how it uses data, we will amend our Privacy Policy and notify our members so that they will be afforded the opportunity to opt- in or opt- out of the MoviePass service. This is what our customers expect, what the law requires, and how we’ve always handled data. We want to assure everyone that we treat our members’ data with the utmost sensitivity. Your trust and enjoyment are the lifeblood of our service.

    We understand that you may have further questions, so have included an additional FAQ page for your reference.

    Warm Regards,

    Mitch Lowe

  • If it can be done, it will be done. I run my devices with Location Services off. It sucks for geotagging photos, but personal tracking data is the coin of the (internet) realm. Not just geolocation, although that’s pretty creepy, but what websites you visit, for how long, what shows you watch, podcasts you listen to, and so on… it could be tracked and SOMEBODY will try to track it.

    It would be great if systems could be built where this data can’t be recorded, much less tracked – the only way to be sure is to not have the data. Sounds unrealistic. How about encrypted and only we have the key??

    At some stage the scales will tip and privacy will be valued. It’s still the wild west and people will give up so much for so little in return. That will change. Corporations and governments should be providing free internet if they’re tracking everything everyone does on it. People will be able to pay for a Private internet. We’re paying to be tracked now, hopefully it won’t become the realm of the rich REGAINING privacy for everything we do.

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