After Media Play News reported data tracking comments from MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe March 2 at a Los Angeles conference, numerous news outlets picked up on the quote: “We watch how you drive from home to the movies.”
The full quote reads as follows: “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.”
In response to the reaction to Lowe’s comments on tracking, Lowe wrote an open letter to MoviePass customers:
“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 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.