Bob Iger today told a Massachusetts congressman that his privacy issue concerns about new technology being introduced at Disney theme parks are bunk. “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,” the Disney chairman and CEO wrote in a letter (read it in full below) Monday to Ed Markey.
The program to which Iger is referring is the company’s MyMagic+MagicBands digital venture set to launch this spring at Disney World. As Iger outlined last week during a Q&A with Brian Grazer, the initiative enables theme park visitors to upload their personal information into digitally enhanced wristbands so they can reserve time on rides and in restaurants as well as upload birthday information. From Disney’s point of view, the MagicBand tracks guest interaction and purchasing behavior while in the parks.
Iger’s letter today comes in response to a letter that Markey, co-chairman of the Congressional Bi-partisan Privacy Caucus, sent to Disney on Thursday raising concerns about the new technology. “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,” wrote the House Democrat. Here’s Iger’s full response today:
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