Thursday, May 14, 2009

Too much information (for too little value)

I rarely go to the movies - I usually just wait until whatever I want to see comes out on DVD. But recently I wanted to see the This American Life live simulcast. When I bought my tickets, I was disappointed that I had to register in order to make the purchase - and very surprised that a required field in the registration is a birthdate.

I can see where if I were under 18 they might want a birthdate to verify what types of movies I'm allowed to see (although it should really control admission, not ticket purchase). But for those of us over 18, it's only useful for marketing purposes - and it's an unnecessary piece of personal information for them to have. Just another bit of data to put identities at risk...

The privacy policy says "Through customer surveys, subscriptions, and newsletter registration, our site may request users to give us contact, demographic and/or financial information (such as
their name, locale, gender, age, income level and email address). The demographic information is used, among other things, to enhance user experience so we can be more content specific." I guess they consider the birthdate to be demographic, although IMHO if that were the case they could do just fine with the year alone.

I've filed a complaint with their customer service department. Not surprisingly, I haven't heard back. I may file a complaint with their privacy person next.


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