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A Data Scientist Visits The Magic Kingdom, Sans Privacy 124

Posted by timothy
from the it-puts-the-wristband-on-its-wrist dept.
An anonymous reader writes "MailChimp Chief Data Scientist [John Foreman] is at Disney World this weekend wearing his RFID-equipped MagicBand. Here's how he thinks the practice of digitally tracking consumers in the physical world will reach everywhere from theme parks to our homes." Foreman's conclusion (and headline) — shades of Scott McNeally's famous "Get over it" — is "You don't want your privacy." That seems to miss the mark, at least for me: I don't mind parceling out certain kinds of information (like whether I like to buy decaf at Starbucks, or how long the wait is to ride Space Mountain), in contexts of my own choosing, but that's much different from being snooped on by the NSA or other state actors in other contexts.
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A Data Scientist Visits The Magic Kingdom, Sans Privacy

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  • Already read it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kotoku (1531373) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @06:30PM (#46008067) Journal
    It is called Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Cory Doctorow already figured it all out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:56PM (#46009087)

    I went down to Disney just a few weeks ago.. and, to be honest, it would be awesome if the MagicBands actually worked. You have to be 1-2mm away from the reader for the readers to even attempt to get the data off the band.. and most times it just doesn't work and the cast members had to get the numbers from the back of the bands manually. So much for "Magic". Very frustrating. I was envisioning something more seamless.

  • by noc007 (633443) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:17AM (#46010245)

    To my understanding the MagicBand has two RFID components. One is long range, battery powered, and is used for tracking a person in the parks. My understanding is they use the data to see where crowds go, what's popular during different times of day on which days, and when there's too much of a crowd, they'll put out distractions to get the crowd to move. The other chip is for short range stuff like room key, purchase transactions, and FastPass. This one can be read by a NFC reader and everything but the serial number is encrypted. Here's the thing, it's a privately owned theme park that can dictate within reason what goes on in their park. Don't like it, don't go and patronize. Simple as that.

    I've read on a Disney enthusiast that people up in arms saying they'd be putting foil around their bands and honestly I don't know why they're paying Disney to go to the park if they don't like it. What people need to be up in arms about is the dwindling of our freedoms and the abuses of the law by our (US) government. No, people may get a little grouchy, but they just put up with it and let is slide. A private company with their private property doing something to better their product and people flip a shit when they have a choice to not participate.

  • Magic Band Tech (Score:4, Informative)

    by gatzke (2977) on Monday January 20, 2014 @07:15AM (#46011923) Homepage Journal

    We went down recently and got the Magic Bands. Disney uses them in five ways:

    1. Ticket into the park
    2. "Fast pass+" for some rides in the park
    3. Purchases (with a pin, if your card is tied in)
    4. Room access if staying on resort.
    5. Photo pass (photos shot by in park employees)

    In most cases, these are actions that for >95% of us would be tied to our credit card transaction. Even the old paper fast passes would have been tied to your park ticket (which is probably tied to your credit card).

    The photo pass is one that previously was not tied to your credit card in any way. You would take pictures and get a code, if you never bought the code or tied the code to your online disney account they would not have your picture. But I am sure Disney has plenty of CCD in place and could tie in your entering the park to a picture if they wanted.

    I really doubt they are tracking people in the park. Their RFID sensors stink! You have to orient the band just right to get the RFID close to the sensor. You have to hold it still and sometimes swipe two or three times. I doubt they are long range scanning your RFID in the park without your knowledge.

    Also, you only get three of the new fast pass+ "experiences" in the park each day. So they really will only see you in three spots. For them, this stuff is probably more useful for load leveling than privacy invasion.

    BTW, problems with the system have been all over the place. Disney invested almost a billion in it and they were considering dropping it, but it worked pretty well for us.

    So in summary, if you are skeevy about this at Disney World, pay cash or use gift cards to buy your tickets.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN