January 2014

Geofencing corrals meeting attendees

by Ruth A. Hill

What About Privacy?
Because geofencing is one more way for sponsors, exhibitors and others to collect and broadcast personal data, some regard it as yet another digital intrusion on their lives, their vital personal information and their privacy.

Planners who use geofencing answer the issue by pointing to opt-out features on the apps. 

“Anyone can certainly decline to download an app, or they can use opt-out features to disconnect from all social media profiles,” says Casey Sanders. “Or, they can connect with one network and not another. But that might be a disadvantage because people can’t easily get relevant information about you at an event.”

The concern about divulging content is being eclipsed by a desire to connect, she contends.

Industry attorney Jonathan Howe agrees, but he warns planners and sponsors to protect themselves with a privacy statement on apps that reveals how collected data will be used.

“It’s like everything else these days–you must hand over data to subscribe to free newsletters, board an international flight, and so on,” Howe says. “Most people just click ‘I agree’ without any concept of what they have authorized.”

Ball encourages planners to make certain their tech providers use PCI (payment card industry) compliant systems for events.

“We are living in different times when technology is exploding and changing rapidly,” Ball says. “One of the casualties is personal privacy. The genie is out of the bottle. All anyone can do is to take reasonable precautions and remember that what goes on the Web stays on the Web.”

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