Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus Questions Disney on MyMagic+

Last week Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger received a letter from the Co-Chairman of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, Edward Markey, (D- Mass). The letter called the company on the carpet and demanded answers to seven multi-part questions about the collection of personal date from guests, with a focus on youth. Congressman Markey quotes the very same New York Times article from January 7th, 2013 that we used in our article MyMagic+ Set to Roll Out at Walt Disney World as the catalyst for his concern.

In the letter Congressman Markey states that Disney intends to use "MagicBand bracelets encoded with credit card information" however in the Times article Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, is clearly quoted as saying that "The bands themselves will contain no personal identifiable information." This statement points to the MagicBand, and similarly the RFID encoded cards, likely functioning as a key between technologies, to facilitate the interface between guest data and the interactive technologies using it.

Though the Congressman acknowledges in his letter that the use of MagicBand will be optional in one part of the letter, he questions that later on. He also expresses concern that MyMagic+ "could potentially have a harmful impact on our children." The concern seems to be mainly in the targeted marketing of products to children and the sharing of youth information even with other branches of the company, such as the Disney Channel. However in the Times article that sparked his concern, it clearly states that "Guests will not be forced to use the MagicBand system, and people who do try it will decide how much information to share."

Disney has released a first response statement through a spokesman regarding the letter that offers the following:

MyMagic+ is a completely optional program. Disney's privacy policies and practices are fully transparent and guests can choose whether or not to participate in MyMagic+. In addition, guests control whether their personal information is used for promotional purposes and no data collected is ever used to market to children. MyMagic+ is designed to make a visit to Walt Disney World more personalized, seamless and customized than ever before.

While the statement may be true, it offers no explanation to the points brought into question by the Congressman. The letter asks Mr. Iger to respond in writing to the questions by February 14th, 2013 and can be found in it's full form here for your review. What the Congressman calls into question is no different than concerns we've seen from fans on countless across the internet.

What do you think about the letter sent by Congress asking Disney to explain MyMagic+? Are you looking forward to Disney's response, or do you feel that our government has other things to focus on? We'll be keeping our eyes open for further details and specific answers to the Congressman's concerns.


Sharon wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 15:26:

Sharon's picture

Maybe the congressman should focus on more important issues, like passing a budget and the economy.

Jeff wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 16:29:

Jeff's picture

I tend to agree with the above comment. They do have better things to do and if Disney has made a big mistake their visiting public, and their lawyers, will let them know quickly.

Sandy wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 17:53:

Sandy's picture

I'm not worried about my privacy using the new wristband. It's not mandatory to use. If I decide to pass on it, no penalty to me. Husband worries if they will use it to track you on Disney property. To what end? As long as my credit card # is not available or can not be retrieved I'm OK with using it. Disney already has as much information on me as any financial institution.. I own DVC share, the hotel has my credit card #, we have answered many surveys in the park and out. Am I being naive?

Kristen K. wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 18:41:

Kristen K.'s picture

I don't think you're being naive Sandy, Disney already captures so much of where we go and what we do. I also really think that Congress has much better things to do, they should keep their nose out of my magic :-)

betsy4417 wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 19:01:

warrentless wiretapping is ok, but Disney bands are a congressional issue? If you are worried that Disney will know who your favorate character is or that you drink Coke not Pepsi, then don't use a band. I like knowing that Disney can use the info to customize my "Disney Experience".

Adrienne wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 19:49:

Adrienne's picture

FYI Sharon - Markey is a state senator not at the national level. That said, I, personally, like the idea of the bands!

Adrienne wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 19:52:

Adrienne's picture

FYI - Congressman Markey is a Massachusetts State Congressman....not at the national level. That said, I rather like the idea of the bands if what Disney reps say is true!

Susan wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 20:14:

Susan's picture

I think that ALL of Washington could use a trip to the"Happiest Place on Earth". Then they can return to Washington refreshed and with a clear mind and possible fix what is wrong with our political system at the present time. Worrying about the Disney arm band, is crazy,........ really Congress !

Marian wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 21:34:

Marian's picture

Seriously, is this all Congress has to worry about? I personally would rather have Mickey collect my info than I would most members of Congress.

Kristan wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 21:35:

Kristan's picture

I think it is a great idea. I think tracking you through the park is awesome too! If your child gets separated from you how simple would it be for them to locate the parents and the kids with these bracelets. Also the bracelet Idea makes a great solution to physical ticket cards that could get lost. Wear your ticket... If someone wants your personal information, they will get it don't worry.

twilightsparrow wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 23:19:

twilightsparrow's picture

I agree with all who have said that Congress has other more important issues to occupy themselves with. Disney already has all of our information when we stay on property, and I've also answered numerous surveys, so if I choose to use to band it's my business. If it's optional then let it be.

Clark wrote on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 23:45:

Clark's picture

I logged on to the Senator's web site and emailed him with the same message that Sharon wrote in her post above. He must have an election coming up or is sniffing for some free fast passes.

Paula B. wrote on Tue, 01/29/2013 - 13:08:

Paula B.'s picture

I think this committe is looking into an issue which is directly connected to its main purpose (with regard to the Senate working on other issues). Also, as you have mentioned, these privacy concerns have been raised by Disney visitors on numerous sites, so, obviously a red flag has been raised. It's one thing for a bank or a hotel to have your information, another when Disney appears to take this to another level. I think the larger issue is with children, and to what end their personal information will be used. Congress is "exploring" the situation prior to the program being instituted. Nothing wrong with privacy guidelines being clearly drawn up as a new program gets established.

Lori wrote on Tue, 01/29/2013 - 17:23:

Lori's picture

@Paula I am the parent of my children and I don't need congress deciding what Disney does or does not need to know about me or my children! Contrary to (what seems to be) the belief of many of our elected officials, I am not a moron and am fully capable of educating myself and deciding if this is something my family feels comfortable participating in... no one is forcing me to go to WDW! As a side note... Ed Markey is apparently hoping to fill what could be John Kerry's vacated senate seat if he moves over to Obama's cabinet... hhhmmm.

Kristen K. wrote on Wed, 01/30/2013 - 15:06:

Kristen K.'s picture

Lori - Ahhhh.... he's trying to make a name for himself at a strategic junction. Well that make sense. I hope it backfires on him.

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