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MoviePass CEO formally apologizes for controversial location-tracking comments

MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe has issued an open letter apologizing for the comments he made about tracking customers’ locations earlier this month. “First and foremost, I apologize for these comments and the concern they caused. At MoviePass, we take customer privacy extremely seriously,” Lowe wrote. The letter was published on the MoviePass website and clarifies that the app currently uses standard location services on an “opt-in” basis. Lowe said MoviePass would only identify a member’s location which happens when a user requests a search for nearby theaters or when a member requests to check in at a theater.

Lowe made the initial comments, which sparked the outcry at the Entertainment Finance Forum earlier in March, saying, “We watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards,” according to a report from Media Play News. His comments caused a furor, alarming tech journalists and customers alike, and leading MoviePass to update its iOS app last week to remove “unused app location capability,” or background-tracking capabilities. The open letter notes that MoviePass “does not use and has never used this feature.”

Lowe does state, however, that though MoviePass does have partnerships with theaters and studios where they offer data on trends like ticket use, it would never divulge individual identities, personal information, or personal data.

Still, the company hasn’t ruled out future changes about how it collects data. The site’s FAQ section includes a question that asks “could you eventually sell my personal data to a third party in the future?” A response states: “If, in the future, MoviePass desires to expand our offering, 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.” The subscription service states that it treats members’ data with “utmost sensitivity” and that users will always have the option to choose which location-based services are suitable for them.

Lowe’s comments this month add to a series of public criticisms for the company after MoviePass stopped supporting high-profile AMC Theatres locations in major cities in January following months of disputes.


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