Disney to Track Visitors: New Digital Magic Bracelet Privacy Advocates

Wednesday, 09 Jan 2013 08:40 AM

By Dale Eisinger

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Future World is firmly in place at Walt Disney World in Florida. So is Big Brother.

The giant tourist mecca near Orlando announced on Monday it is implementing a new way to let users experience its Disney theme parks with a digital bracelet called MyMagic+ later this year. Using the device, visitors will be able to bypass entry turnstiles and sometimes waiting lines altogether, and the digital bracelet will store credit card information, user data, and rider preferences.

However, the wristband also uses radio frequency IDs to track where riders are, and some people are already taking issue with the implications of being tracked by radio.

One consumer privacy advocate expressed concerns that putting RFID technology in the wristbands for entertainment purposes would lead to youngsters not questioning why the technology exists elsewhere. Katherine Albrecht, author of the book "Spychips," told the International Business Times that the technology in this setting could normalize it elsewhere.

"They're basically conditioning young children to wear tracking devices," Albrecht said. "Well, one day these kids will be lawyers and doctors, and they'll grow up thinking it's completely normal to have their whereabouts tracked and their behavior monitored."

Disney World says if privacy concerns exist, they should be more related to financial and personal data being breeched — but that's nothing to worry about at Disney World.

"All of the information itself is secured in very secure data services with full encryption and all the other things that you would want for your personal data," Nick Franklin, a Disney spokesman said in a statement.

But Albrecht said the issue is less about the data or even Disney than it is about making tracking devices acceptable.

"Most of us have a line we think we'll never cross," she said. "We don't want people tracking us in our homes or in the bathroom, right? But if you go after kids, and you make it fun, you can introduce a technology that most of us would object to in our everyday lives. And people will thank you for the privilege."

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