Washington, DC, USA — Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) raised questions about the privacy implications for children visiting Disney theme parks resulting from the company’s plan to offer a new bracelet at its parks that will serve as a payment source, room key, and gateway to other services during visits to some Disney parks. In a letter sent January 24, 2013 to the Disney corporation Chairman and CEO Robert Iger, Rep. Markey asks the company how it will track, collect information about, and target its guests with advertisements, especially the children and teenagers who frequent the parks. Disney’s plan to roll out a new “MagicBand” system was reported in a New York Times article earlier in January.
“Collecting information about how guests use Disney amusement parks could improve the company’s ability to target advertisements at its guests, including children,” writes Rep. Markey, who is a Co-Chairman of the Congressional Bi-partisan Privacy Caucus. “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.”
In the letter addressed to Disney’s chairman and CEO, Rep. Markey asks whether guests will be required to use the “MagicBand” system; how data will be collected, stored, and shared; and whether children will be targeted with ads or other marketing pitches. The full letter is available here: Letter — Disney — 1-24-13.
In May of 2011, Rep. Markey introduced the Do Not Track Kids Act, legislation that amends the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 to extend, enhance and update the provisions relating to the collection, use and disclosure of children’s personal information and establishes new protections for personal information of children and teens. More information on that legislation is available HERE, and Rep. Markey will re-introduce this legislation in the coming months.
EDITORS NOTE — Disney CEO Bob Iger responded to Rep. Markey in the following open letter on January 28, 2013:
January 28, 2013
The Honorable Edward Markey
2108 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
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.go.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
Robert A Iger