Event Registration Blog

The Privacy Risk of Event Registration Systems

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You might be surprised to learn that some online registration companies give themselves permission to use the data collected from your attendees for their own purposes. This likely violates the privacy policies of many organizations and it puts the event planner’s reputation at risk if attendees make the connection between registering for an event and the new marketing emails in their inbox.

What are the Risks?

In addition to the use of your attendees’ personal information and the likelihood that they will be plagued by marketing material, there is also the risk that you, as the event planner, could violate the privacy policy of the organization holding the event.

Most universities, charities, corporations, and government agencies have their own privacy policies about the sharing of information. If you use a registration system that violates the policy you are risking the reputation of the organization.

Some might argue that each attendee is agreeing to the privacy policy of the registration provider on their own, so that the privacy policy of the organization holding the event isn’t in question. Even if there isn’t technically violation of the privacy policy, we still think that people will be upset that they were required to use a system that exposed their personal data.

If you get complaints, you can always tell people that the full 3000+ word privacy policy was available for them to read when they were registering, so it’s not your fault they’re getting marketing material they don’t want…let us know how it works out for you.

Which companies use registrant data for their own purposes?

Reading privacy policies is the only way to tell for sure. There are companies out there with free and low cost systems that have clauses in their privacy policy that you should be wary of, but the amount you pay isn’t always an indicator of whether or not the data is used by the provider.

What to look for in privacy policies

Most companies do a good job of putting a link to their privacy policy on the registration form, so the information is easily accessible. Once you’ve open the policy, look for sections on use of collected data, marketing, etc.

If you come across a sentence clearly stating that the collected data is never used by the company providing the service such as this, you should be safe:

Our client owns all of the collected data and we never share, sell, or rent it to anyone other than our client unless:

(a) authorized by our Client
(b) as part of the payment collection process
(c) if required to by law.

If you don’t find anything clearly saying that the data isn’t used, carefully read through to see if you find anything that you or your registrants should be concerned about.

It might take some work to make a change, but if you find that your attendee’s data is at risk of being used by your provider and this is a concern for you, start looking to transitioning to another provider. Choose your new system carefully or it may cost you a lot more than the stated price.

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