MoviePass Tracks Your Location

We’ve all waited for other shoes to drop on a super cheap movie service with unlimited viewing and finally it happened. In a recent presentation, the CEO of MoviePass admitted that the app tracks your location before and after watching movies – something that wasn’t clearly revealed before millions of people signed up for the service.

According to Media Play News , MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said some interesting things during his Hollywood launch late last week titled “New Oil: How Does MoviePass Monetize It?” In particular, he openly admitted that his app tracks the location of people, even if they are not actively using it:

“We receive a huge amount of information … We all know about it. We watch you go from home to the cinema. Then we see where you go. “

Lowe also commented on how they know subscribers’ addresses, their demographics and how they can track subscriptions via the phone’s app and GPS. It drew nervous laughter from the crowd, many of whom were MoviePass subscribers themselves, but Lowe assured them that collecting tracking data was within their long-term revenue plan. He explained that their vision is to “have a movie night,” with MoviePass eventually directing subscribers to places to eat before watching movies and places to have a drink after eating (all for a small fee from vendors ).

We knew MoviePass was collecting data about us from the beginning – this is how they plan to make money – so how is that different? Well, subscribers claim that they have not explicitly disclosed such persistent location tracking in their privacy policy . In terms of location tracking, the privacy policy mentions a “single request” under the “Registration” section that is used when you select a theater or movie to watch. However, this section also mentions real-time location data “as a tool for developing, improving and personalizing a service.” This is a vague statement that can mean anything, but it is understandable if users did not assume that it meant watching them wherever they went, even when they were not using the application.

These tracking policies may be explained in more detail to users elsewhere, but no one can find anything that describes the type of tracking that Lowe suggested in his statements. Was he exaggerating? Or plans for the future? Unlikely. In a statement to TechCrunch , a MoviePass spokesperson basically confirmed the tracking when asked about it, saying:

We are exploring the use of location marketing as a way to improve the overall experience by creating more opportunities for our subscribers to enjoy all the different elements of a great movie night. We will not sell the collected data. Rather, we will use it to better inform how to market potential customer benefits, including discounts on transportation, coupons at nearby restaurants, and other similar opportunities.

MoviePass made a similar statement for The Verge , adding that it is part of their vision to “create a full movie night out,” and that their larger goal is “to provide a complete movie viewing experience at a price that anyone can afford, and that everyone can enjoy. “

So, there is no question that they are tracking the location of MoviePass users, but the question is, when and for how long? If this makes it easier for you, their privacy policy states that they do not plan to sell such personal information to anyone. Of course, a quick adjustment to their privacy policy in the future could change all that. But if that happens, at least they will notify you of the changes. Their privacy policy states: “Users will be notified in advance, which will give you the opportunity to prevent the disclosure of your personal information.”

After all, this is another question mark added to the question “Is MoviePass too good to be true?” the question we all asked. Hopefully MoviePass clears the air soon and gives us a better explanation of what’s going on with the user’s location data and why. It would be nice to know what location information is collected when it starts tracking users, how long it tracks users after they watch a movie, and if there is a way to opt out of this type of location tracking. We will update as soon as we know more.

Update ( 03/13/2018 ) : MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe retracted his statements made during the presentation. Lowe says he was overly excited about the potential future of data collection and mischaracterized how MoviePass’s location tracking features actually work at this time. Here’s part of his statement:

“MoviePass is currently using standard Consent Location Services capabilities. There are only two events that will prompt MoviePass to locate the participant. These include when a participant asks to look for theaters nearby and when a participant asks to register with a theater. Both events require both the application to be open and the participant to request an action. MoviePass does not track and never track or collect location data of our members at any time when the application is inactive. In our recent update from Apple, we removed the background tracking feature. MoviePass does not use and has never used this feature. “


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