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Politics

U.S. Rep: How Much Privacy Will Disney Be Stealing from Kids at the Magic Kingdom?

January 26, 2013 - 6:00pm

Is Disney overstepping and infringing on the privacy rights of children entering its theme parks with the new electronic wristband pass system it will introduce?

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., wants to know if the Walt Disney Co. will be collecting too much personal information about its young guests.

Markey has asked Disney CEO Robert Iger -- in a Jan. 24 letter -- for details of the amusement giants plan to track guests at parks through bracelets called MagicBands" to the MyMagic+ program.

The bands, equipped with radio frequency identification chips, are being advertised as a single means to incorporate credit cards, room keys, park passes and notification for ride Easy Pass tickets into a single use.

The program is due to be rolled out this spring at Walt Disney World near Orlando.

However, Markey is concerned that by surrendering information in order to have easier access at Disney facilities, too many questions remain unanswered as to how the information, particularly involving vulnerable children, will be used.

"Although kids should have the chance to meet Mickey Mouse, this memorable meeting should not be manipulated through surreptitious use of a child's personal information," wrote Markey, co-chairman of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus.

In other words, will Disney profile customers for future direct advertising and who else may see the data?

Also, will guests be punished for refusing to use the MyMagic+ by having to wait longer in lines?

Markey has asked Iger to respond by Feb.14.

Angela Bliss, a Disney spokeswoman, told The Hill that MyMagic+ will be an optional program that is simply intended to make the park experience "more personalized, seamless and customized than ever before."

"Disneys privacy policies and practices are fully transparent and guests can choose whether to participate in MyMagic+, Bliss stated. In addition, guests control whether their personal information is used for promotional purposes and no data collected is ever used to market to children."


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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