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Disney CEO Iger responds angrily to congressman's criticism of MyMagic+ plans

Disney MagicBand
Disney's new MagicBand is already stirring controversy. Image © Disney

Disney CEO Bob Iger has responded angrily to privacy concerns raised by Massachusetts congressman Ed Markey over the company's plans to introduce RFID technology in its theme parks.

Markey sent an open letter to Disney on January 24, in which he criticised the firm's plans to introduce "MagicBand" wristbands that will allow guests to simply "bump" the device on readers to perform a wide variety of actions.

The congressman stoked controversy by warning: "Collecting information about how guests use Disney amusement parks could improve the company's ability to target advertisements at its guests, including children. 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."

Iger's response describes Markey's claims as "ludicrous and utterly ill-informed", denying strongly that Disney intends to "manipulate" children. The Disney boss also included an outline of the MyMagic+ privacy policy, as the company looks to fend off the attack. The full letter was published over at Deadline, and can be seen below:

January 28, 2013

The Honorable Edward Markey

2108 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

Congressman Markey:

For 90 years, Disney has been synonymous with high-quality entertainment for families and children of all ages. We use creativity, innovation and technology to create memorable moments and experiences for our hundreds of millions of customers and guests. And, as you well know, Disney’s record and commitment to children’s safety and security and the protection of their privacy is exemplary. People around the world trust Disney and its products. That trust is the cornerstone of our company, and we take it very seriously.

We are offended by the ludicrous and utterly ill-informed assertion in your letter dated January 24, 2013, that we would in any way haphazardly or recklessly introduce a program that manipulates children, or wantonly puts their safety at risk.

It is truly unfortunate and extremely disappointing that you chose to publicly attack us before taking the time to review our policies and/or contact us for information, which would have obviated the need for your letter. Had you or your staff made the slightest effort, you would have found most of the answers to your questions already existed and were publicly available online at http://corporate.disney.go.com/corporate/pp.html and https://disneyworld.disney.qo.com/faq/my-disney-experience/privacy-policy/

In the enclosed attachment, we address the questions in your letter about our new, yet-to-be­ launched program, MyMagic+. However, to ensure that you fully understand our practices as they pertain to children, and our commitment to our guests’ privacy, let me be clear and reiterate the basic facts.

MyMagic+ is a completely optional program that was designed with privacy controls from the outset. Disney does not use personal information to market to children under age 13, does not personalize or target advertisements to an individual child, and never shares children’s personal information with any third party for their marketing purposes. Additionally, parents have full control over their child’s participation in MyMagic+. We have transparent privacy practices, guests can control and limit the amount of information they provide to us — and how their information is used.

Further details are attached

Sincerely,

Robert A Iger

The introduction of MyMagic+ is the latest element Disney's NextGen initiative, which aims to revolutionize the guest experience at the company's theme parks and resorts. It will see visitors' hotel room keys, theme park tickets, FASTPASS queue-jumping reservations and even wallets replaced by a single wristband, dubbed the MagicBand.

Many of Disney's planned innovations are based on RFID technology, which will be used as a convenient and quick way to identify individual guests. All Walt Disney World resort guests are now receiving RFID-enabled "Key to the World" cards, while sensors are cropping up in a number of retail outlets and at theme park entrances.

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Source: Deadline.com
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