No, you can’t know what movies I watch!

Blockbuster and Facebook have recently come under attack for some aspects of Beacon, Facebook’s semi-new intrusive marketing tool.  Years ago, when I actually worked at Blockbuster, it was fairly well known that you couldn’t divulge what movies someone has watched.  Similar to how you have the primary member at a CU, the account holder of a Blockbuster account had to given written permission for their history to be divulge to a third party, even if that person was a spouse or a "joint" account holder.  When wives frequently called up to ask what movies they had out, if the account was under the name of the husband we couldn’t tell them.  Not to customer friendly, but it was the law. 

Movie Clique, Blockbuster’s Facebook app, lets you share your movie watching history with other Facebook users.  While this sounds cool and very web 2.0, it also appears to be illegal.  According to a law professor at the New York School of Law, the two companies should be preparing for incoming lawsuits.

So what does this mean for CU’s?  First off, that it is actually harder to share movie rental history with a spouse than it is to share banking transactions.  Personally, I feel like banking transactions are a little more private than that, yet they are not afforded the same legal protection.  With the recent advent of Mint, Wesabe, Cake, etc, our member’s information is getting spread all over the web and we to be very aware of how this info is being consumed.  It would also be a good idea to ensure your branch staff are relatively tight-lipped about the info they give out.

5 thoughts on “No, you can’t know what movies I watch!”

  1. Robbie, great post. It’s all about consent. With Flixster on facebook, people are explicitly sharing their movie reviews, what upcoming movies they want to watch, etc. With Movie Clique, does the user have control over what information is being shared? If the info is voluntarily being given, how can someone sue them? Privacy, and control over that privacy is the foundation for lawsuit-free happiness.

  2. Flixster also has the fact going for it that peoples reviews isn’t a legal representation of what they have actually rented. Blockbuster has the info, just needs to find a good (legal) way to use it.

    I’m pretty sure the Movie Clique has privacy options embedded in it, but I’ve never actually used the app.

  3. Financial privacy is actually very tight. If credit unions want to share sensitive financial information with non-affiliated third parties, they have to disclose the practice and give their members the right to opt out. And simply because a member is a family member does not give a credit union any more leniency on whether they may disclose information to them. If the spouse, e.g., is not on the account, they may not get the information.

  4. @Compliance Guy – You are completely right. I think many people just assume that since two people are married they are entitled to certain access. That is certainly not the case with financial privacy. Hopefully most people have done their compliance training already. I just finished all of mine…my favorite thing to do!

  5. As a teller i had it drilled into my head that it wasn’t ok to disclose any financial information to anyone but the account holder. You wouldn’t believe how many people were ticked because I wouldn’t tell them about their husband or wife’s account. The few times we found out they were separated or in a legal battle for money made all the upsets worth it.

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