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MoviePass update removes 'unused' location requests from iOS app

Devin Coldewey

MoviePass has issued an update for its iOS app that removes "unused app location capability," apparently a response to widespread concern after the company's CEO said: "We watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards."

An earlier statement from the company was "exploring utilizing location-based marketing," though the data collected was not being sold. A developer TechCrunch contacted said that precise location was being sent regularly while the app was open. (We were not able to verify this independently before the update was issued.)

So combined with CEO Mitch Lowe's unmistakable remarks at a talk literally entitled "Data is the New Oil: How will MoviePass Monetize It?" it's hard to believe that this capability was "unused."

At any rate, the new version appears to address the concerns of privacy advocates. Users can control the permissions of apps individually, of course, but even so it is the developers' responsibility to inform users what their software is doing, so an informed choice can be made.

The location data usage alluded to by Lowe is also not mentioned in the company's privacy policy, which is a whole different problem. I've asked MoviePass for more information and will update if I hear back.

Update: MoviePass sent over the following statement:

Today, MoviePass released a new app update, including the removal of some unused app location capabilities. While part of our vision includes using location-based marketing to enhance the movie-going experience for our members, we aren't using some of that functionality today. Our members will always have the option to choose the location-based services that are right for them today and in the future.