MyMagic+ Bands with RFID technology promise to be the key to shorter lines and more personalized experiences at the Walt Disney World theme parks, but Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts recently attacked them as a potential threat to children's privacy because of the information they contain.
Now Disney CEO Bob Iger has officially called those concerns "ludicrous" and "ill-informed" in a letter he fired off to Markey about his "utterly ill-informed assertion."
MyMagic+ Bands contain a wealth of information about guests, including their names and dates of birth. The bands track their movement through the Disney parks and allows them to do things like make reservations for restaurants or use the enhanced FastPass+ system that been rolled out on a limited basis. At some points, the bands might also allow characters to call guests by name or give them birthday wishes based on the information.
It's also very valuable for Disney to know how guests move through the parks, where they go, what they see and buy, and other such statistics. It's this ability that upsets Markey, as he believes it will allow Disney to refine its advertisement and target them more closely to children.
Iger pointed out that the MyMagic+ program is totally voluntarily. Anyone who doesn't want to participate is under no obligation to do so. Obviously, this means they won't enjoy the personalized benefits if they opt out. For those who participate, their information is never shared with any third parties.
Anyone who uses technology regularly is already aware of the trade-off between benefits and giving up some personal privacy to receive them. Cookies customize your internet experience, but they also let sites know your surfing habits. Facebook is notorious for the ways in which it allegedly violates user privacy, yet people flock to the site because they find that its use outweighs the potential problems.
Disney has strong privacy protections in place, so it's doubtful that fears about shared information will drive guests away from the program. With consumer expectations for a custom high-end experience always rising, it's much more likely that MyMagic+ will become a permanent and integral part of the experience.