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Disney’s Magic Wristbands: Mickey Mouse is watching you

(Technology News) Disney has innovated with anew technology that follows visitors everywhere – is it creepy or cool?

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Mickey Mouse has his eyes on you – creepy or innovative?

Disney has added a new element to their MyMagic+ vacation management system – in lieu of paper tickets, Disney guests can opt for a waterproof, rubber wristband embedded with a computer chip called Magic Bands. This wristband takes the place of not only paper admission tickets, but also, FastPasses, hotel keys, and credit cards. You can also be alerted when attraction ride lines are shortest. Magic Bands are completely optional, but probably the most enjoyable part of the MyMagic+ system.

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As awesome as this sounds, the cynic in me wonders, just how safe is this? It seems akin to the anklet style tracking devices parolees receive. The MyMagic+ system is designed to track users’ purchases, when they come and go, and perhaps most creepy, address their children: if parents agree to and set up certain elements in their MyMagic+ management system, the characters in the park can use the hidden wristband sensors to track children and their information.

Now, I realize this could be invaluable if you lose a child in the park, but the thought of having a Mickey walk up and say, “Hello, Justin,” is a little bit creepy. I am sure in the eyes of a child, it is magical though. However, there is also the security risk of having all of your information stored centrally, could someone lift or scan your credit card number or duplicate your hotel room key off your wristband? I am not sure, but I would definitely want to know more about encryption and security features.

The massive business advantage

From a business perspective however, this is an advantageous way to aggregate data from multiple sources. Disney will be able to receive demographics of their guests (via their MyMagic+ profiles), in conjunction with what they purchase, and where they purchase it. Also, they will be able to see what attractions are most popular with guests and compare these statistics across the board.

Basically, Disney will receive every bit of information about their guests from the moment they check in to the Disney hotel. Guests are in control of how much information they share with Disney, however. As well as, whether or not their children participate in the program, as mentioned above.

While the idea of centralizing all things Magic Kingdom is great, the execution seems a bit creepy, but that is just my opinion. We already live in a society where the government freely tracks our movement, so the land of Mickey Mouse, should not be any different. There are thousands of DisneyLand/DisneyWorld fans waiting to get their hands on a Magic Band, so there must be something to it. Whether you think it is creepy or cool, it is a good way for Disney to collect more data and hopefully use it to make the Disney experience even better.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Heather Elias

    January 6, 2014 at 8:57 am

    We just returned from a wonderful Disney trip, and our whole family used the bands for park access, as a room key, to purchase food on the dining plan, and to manage our Fastpasses to the rides. Obviously, it’s a trade off between data privacy and convenience, but we were thrilled to use them. The simplification of having everything strapped to your wrist is great when you don’t want to run the risk of dropping your wallet (with credit cards, room keys, etc) while riding one of the roller coasters.

    I wasn’t aware of some of the features you listed, despite having done a bit of research in advance and utilizing the Disney phone app while on site to manage our reservations and passes. I’m looking forward to seeing what features get added; there is a lot more that they could do with it without over-complicating the system. (One great feature would be if parents could use the app and the bands to map older kids’ location within the parks.) For my crew, at least, the Disney level of customer service was so high (magical, even) that the creep factor faded into the background.

  2. Pingback: The Third Wave of Digital Marketing: Can Technology Improve Your Hotel’s Direct Bookings? - Net Affinity Blog - Give Your Hotel Superpowers - Net Affinity Blog - Give Your Hotel Superpowers

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Tech News

Microsoft’s overseas email storage piqued the Supreme Court’s interest

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft has been in a pretty large dispute about storing user emails abroad and the Supreme Court has taken an interest in it.

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The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear a case that will decide whether or not U.S. law enforcement officials can force tech companies to turn over emails and data stored in overseas servers.

The case will review a lower court decision made in 2013 after federal officials attempted to obtain emails from Microsoft that would provide evidence for drug trafficking cases.

At that time, Microsoft refused to comply with the government, even though they had a warrant, instead taking the case to court, claiming that the U.S. government did not have the right to access data stored in servers in Ireland.

The court of appeals ruled in favor of Microsoft, citing a 1986 digital privacy law that allows law enforcement to obtain warrants for electronic communications, but not if the data is stored outside of the United States.

Judge Susan Carney said of the law, “Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the statue envision the application of its warrant provisions overseas.”

The Trump Administration and the Justice Department say that this ruling has majorly blocked efforts to prosecute criminals.

“Under this opinion, hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes — ranging from terrorism, to child pornography, to fraud — are being or will be hampered by the government’s inability to obtain electronic evidence,” said Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall.

Because Microsoft stores data and communications closest to the user’s location, Wall said that the lower court’s decision made it all too easy for terrorists and other criminals to hide their communications by claiming to live in a foreign country when signing up for an account.

Microsoft argues that, instead of handing this decision over to the Supreme Court, legislators should update the 1986 law.

“The current laws were written for the era of the floppy disk, not the world of the cloud.” wrote Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith in a blog.

“We believe that rather than arguing over an old law in court, it is time for Congress to act by passing new legislation.”

In Congress, Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) are pushing for just such an update with a piece of legislation called the Stored Communications Act.

Microsoft further argued that allowing U.S. law enforcement to obtain data from other countries was an “incursion” on those nations’ sovereignty, which would make U.S. citizens more vulnerable to foreign governments.

“If U.S. law enforcement can obtain the emails of foreigners stored outside the United States, what’s to stop the government of another country from getting your emails even though they are located in the United States?” said Smith.

The Justice Department says that, along with Microsoft, Google, Verizon, and Yahoo have all stopped complying with search warrants since the lower court’s decision.

The Supreme Court will hear the case early in 2018 and hope to have a decision by June.

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Tech News

iPhone X is driving prices up and customers away

(TECH NEWS) Apple’s new iPhone X has a pretty hefty price tag which is causing many long-time Apple fans to question their brand loyalty.

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Admit it – you were shocked when you heard that Apple was putting out a new phone that cost a thousand dollars or more.

So, it should really come as no surprise that customers – even committed Apple lovers – are having such bad sticker shock that they may continue using outdated devices, buy an older model of iPhone, or even try a different brand altogether rather than cough up that kind of cash.

Apple fans were stoked when they heard that the new iPhone X was coming out, especially because changes to the last few models have been sort of underwhelming. They hoped the new iPhone X would really be something special.

But when Apple revealed that the iPhone X with 64 GB of storage would cost $999, many balked. An iPhone X with 256 GB of storage will cost you even more at $1,149. This is the most expensive phone Apple has released to date.

Usually when a new iPhone is released, customers line up to get their hands on them and even form waiting lists as Apple furiously attempts to ship them quickly enough to keep up with the demand. This time, we’re not so sure that’s what’s going to happen.

Sure, price-conscious customers have never fallen under the iPhone spell in the first place. But Apple is banking on their most loyal fans to generate sales for the iPhone X. We won’t know for sure until the phone is released on November 3, and until Apple reports on its first and second quarter earnings.

But if fan forums are any indication, Apple might actually have a hard sell here.

A Reddit thread for hardcore Apple fans reveals that even diehards are hesitant to buy the iPhone X at its current price, and some are even outraged and dismayed that Apple would be so bold as to charge a thousand dollars.

Said one commentator, “I think the iPhone X will be a solid phone and I certainly wouldn’t mind having one, but to me the price is definitely overboard and Apple is starting to disappoint me a little with some of their changes (or overall lack thereof) to iOS.”

Some Apple fans are even switching to Samsung, or buying the recently released iPhone 8, which hasn’t particularly impressed anyone either.

Research by KeyBanc Capital shows that many customers are even “buying iPhone 7 in lieu of the new iPhone 8, given the lack of significant enhancements to the new phone.”

The iPhone 8, at $699, doesn’t seem to have enough new features to justify the price hike over the iPhone 7, which is $549.

The message from customers is loud and clear: Apple needs to put out something truly impressive, with some exciting new updates, if it expects its customers to pay hundreds of dollars more for the latest upgrade.

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Tech News

OnePlus swears to kinda stop collecting invasive data from users

(TECH NEWS) Inadvertently discovered during a hackathon, OnePlus was ousted for collecting insane amounts of data on users’ phones and promises to make a small change.

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Users of OnePlus phones were alarmed to learn this week that the company has been collecting large amounts of data from users without their consent or knowledge.

Software Engineer, Christopher Moore was participating in a hacking challenge when he discovered that his phone was sending excessive amounts of data to the OnePlus servers.

While it’s normal for your phone to automatically send data to headquarters when you have a bug or a system crash, OnePlus was collecting data every time the phone was turned off or on, and whenever apps were used.

“Moore says that OnePlus is collecting data such as phone numbers, serial numbers, WiFi and mobile network information, MAC addresses, and information about when and how apps are used, including Outlook and Slack.”

An opt-out option was buried deep within advanced settings. Most users were not aware that their data was being collected and transmitted.

In response to the user outcry, OnePlus posted an explanation on their support forum, saying that they were using the data to “fine tune our software according to user behavior” and to “provide better after-sales support.”

The company has promised to stop collecting MAC addresses, phone numbers, and WiFi information by the end of the month. They also say that they will update their terms of service to be more transparent about the data they are collecting, and will set up an opt-out option in the operating system’s setup wizard that will allow users to decide whether or not they want to join a “user experience program.”

While OnePlus claims that they have never given or sold information to a third party, users are suspicious that the types of data OnePlus is collecting would eventually be sold to marketers.

Even if you choose to opt out of the “user experience program”, OnePlus will continue to collect your data, but it will not be directly associated with your device. Users have generally not been satisfied with this response, saying that the company should give users the option of stopping all data transmissions.

Says Christopher Moore “Unfortunately, as a system service, there doesn’t appear to be any way of permanently disabling this data collection or removing this functionality without rooting the phone.”

You kind of blew it, OnePlus. You were caught red-handed, and it will take more than a partial opt out program to regain your customers’ trust.

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