Tag Archives: products

Privacy, ethics and products

I recently waited on line for 45 minutes with a friend to see a free pre-release movie.  When we got upstairs right before the entrance to the theater, everyone was forced to check  their cell phones and other electronic devices at the door. Everyone willingly did it. Except me.  My cell phone was out, and I refused to check it.  Turns out I wasn’t allowed to enter the theater.  Meanwhile, I insisted that my friend go in. Others had cleverly hidden their electronics.  Once my friend was seated she said she saw numerous people with their cell phones out and that ushers or security came over to them but didn’t eject them.  The studio, Disney, was concerned about pirating, which is a substantial problem in the film industry.  I was concerned about my cell phone (and my ipad which was also in my bag).  There were no statements, printed or oral, guaranteeing the security of my electronics.  Friends have said that cell phones and other electronics have disappeared when they checked them in similar situations. No one was watching the checkers.  Because this was a privately sponsored screening, it was Disney’s party, the sponsor could call the shots and do what they wish. Hey, it’s their right.  I choose not to stay.

I’m sure anyone who really wanted to record that movie illegally could.  And probably did.

This situation reminded me of airport security.  We are all willing (and to differing degrees, happy) to give up our rights and privacy, and possessions in order to obtain something.

While the above is a common but somewhat extreme example (although I was the only one in the theater that seemed to think it was extreme), we willingly give over personal information – and take that of others’ – in the name of a contest, gaining access to something, etc. on the internet all the time.  How many times have you been given the option to log on to a new site using your Facebook, Linked In, Google or other social media password? As a business owner, how often have you been told to run a contest/sweepstakes/drawing in order to build your database?  I won’t do it. And if that’s the only option to obtain access, then I will forgo entering the site.

Big Brother is alive and well but here’s the question – how far will YOU go with YOUR products or website?  What an absolute marketing coup it would be to have a website that was exclusive and didn’t “share” information.  Sure, you couldn’t build up the numbers on your database quickly.  But the folks you will have on your database will be much more valuable.  And you also weren’t giving your database and your personal information away.  As a business, how much do you protect your customers’ privacy?

Something to think about.


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.