Last month it was announced on the Disney Parks blog that they were releasing the MagicBand. Far from being a surprise, it had been a topic of discussion through a variety of news outlets, and Disney Park aficionados, months prior to the official FCC filing.
In the weeks following the blog post a flurry of forum posts appeared, concerned over the many personal privacy issues, from tracking movement within the parks to identity theft. I will say that yes, it is possible for Disney to track your movements through the park using these bracelets – the exact same way that casinos and retail stores already track your movements using facial recognition and cameras.
Tracking customers in the physical space as well as in the virtual space is nothing new, retail organizations have been doing it for years through affinity programs, cameras and purchase tracking databases. It’s how marketing companies know how to perform targeted marketing, perhaps a little at times. We readily submit ourselves to this tracking so marketers can tell manufacturers and retailers what we want and how to sell those things to us.
As far as the threat of theft goes, yes RFID and NFC tags can be read at distance and be cloned, but there will be no Personally Identifiable Information on the tag. The only thing that will be on the tag will be a Globally Unique IDentifier (GUID) which is a random number that is unique only to you. This ID will not reveal anything about the owner of the bracelet and certainly not whether they have authorized charging privileges for their account. All of this information will be held in a database that can only be accessed by the other systems located throughout Disney, much like the Key to the World Card is used now.
Additionally these systems are completely opt-in, meaning that, as Disney has stated, people will have the choice of what information to share. Not even Disney will have access to information unless you give it to them. Even then you don’t have to use the bracelet, you can carry a bunch of cards around with you.
As for me, I’m looking forward to this, I’m just fine with sharing personal information because I know that Disney is doing everything that it can to protect that information. To them, I am just another data point in their marketing database. Will that database ever get breached? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m betting maybe not as marketing data is one of the most closely guarded things a company like Disney has and they are going to protect that data.