A story about NY Comic Con’s harassment policy in our December issue
( convn.org/no-harass) touched off a discussion in PCMA’s LinkedIn group about
the question of acquiring attendee consent to be photographed at conferences.
I read with much interest the December
2014 article in Convene talking about
New York Comic Con’s lucid harassment
policy [“New York Comic Con Unmasks
a Fan-Sourced Harassment Policy”].
In particular, I found the statement
“harassing or non-consensual photogra-
phy or recording” to spark my interest.
Both PCMA and ASAE, I have noticed,
require registrants to consent to be
photographed and recorded at their
conferences without any selection on
the registration page to opt out. Basically,
you have no choice but to be forced into
consenting, or not attend the conference.
Why are companies requiring attendees
to give up their legal right to their own
likeness just to attend a professional
conference? An attendee’s likeness
could be used in promotional materials,
for membership development, etc. without any compensation for the attendee.
Maybe it’s not OK with an attendee.
However, I see this trend growing in conference registration, and it’s not OK with
me or many other people.
Plenty of conferences can take a
lesson from New York Comic Con. Just
because an attendee is forced to check
a box to attend a conference, it doesn’t
mean photography and recording of
the attendee is actually “consensual.”
Where are the champions for attendee
privacy in our own industry?
Kerry Kurowski, CMP, Meetings and
Interesting topic. I can see both sides.
However, with everyone carrying
around a phone that is linked to the
Internet, I would take “harassing or
non-consensual photography or record-
ing” to mean by other attendees. (Note:
I have not read the article yet.)
I think organizations putting on
meetings are covering their legal bases.
When their photographers roam the
meeting and take photos, they have no
way of identifying who is who (except
maybe presenters). Getting permission
from every person on an individual
basis is prohibitive, and something the
photographer would not do. What would
he do, wait until the session is done and
try to catch each person that might have
been in the picture, talk to them, and get
them to sign something? No one could
manage that, not even if someone was
following the photographer around all
day. Yet, if the organization doesn’t get
consent, it could be sued.
The other option, not taking photos
of the event, would leave Convene pretty
ugly with no photos. So they make sure
everyone gives their consent. There
is no intent to harass anyone. But
attendees could do that. Personally, I
would prefer to opt out, but I don’t feel I
would be harmed if I were included in a
photograph taken at a meeting.
Anne Carey, CMP, Meetings and
Wi-Fi Blocking Revisited
PCMA’s LinkedIn group also responded
to the news that Marriott International
had withdrawn from a petition seeking
direction from the FCC about Wi-Fi
security practices, citing the FCC’s oppo-
sition. (See the sidebar article “The Case
of the Gaylord Opryland” in Convene’s
January 2015 cover story.) “Our intent
was to protect personal data in Wi-Fi
hotspots for large conferences,” accord-
ing to a Marriott International statement
issued on Jan. 30.
Unfortunately my feeling is that not
allowing the venue to control unauthorized Wi-Fi signals in their facility
will only lead to more folks bringing in
their own, and causing more problems
for those wanting to use the facility’s
wireless services in a convention hall or
locations where personal Wi-Fi usage is
heavy. This will lead to higher costs for
exhibitors, vendors, and show management, who will now have to move to
wired services due to interference to
their Wi-Fi by others.
The reality is the Wi-Fi 2.4GHz spectrum is limited. In my former environment we used various Wi-Fi-detection
tools — not to increase the sale of our
services, but in an effort to provide
reliable service to those who bought
Wi-Fi from us. How can anyone justify
a vendor that I encountered who was
broadcasting his name and booth number on his own private Wi-Fi network …
that for all intents created interference
with folks using Wi-Fi for their presentations in surrounding booths?
Quite honestly, I don’t buy Marriott’s security explanation. But I’m
somewhat sad to see that a hotel or convention center can no longer attempt
to protect their own wireless that has
been sold or provided to attendees and
exhibitors. Many national events have
changed requirements from providing wireless service to wired due to
severe cases of interference caused by
‘Getting permission from every person is
prohibitive, and something the photographer
would not do. What would he do, wait until the
session is done and try to catch each person
that might have been in the picture?’