Mickey Mouse is Not Big Brother
The report in the Tallahassee Democrat last week on the expansion of the use of finger scanning at Walt Disney World resulted in a number of posts at Democratic Underground and in the blogosphere about perceived threats to civil liberties. I see from the Daou Report that these posts continue. It's time to bring this discussion back to reality.
As an annual pass holder, I've had my fingers scanned at Walt Disney World numerous times over the years with no signs of any limitations on my civil liberties, but with considerable cost savings on park admissions (as well as resort rates). Disney has scanned fingers for the simple purpose of making sure that my annual pass is really being used by me, and not by someone else who is attempting to avoid purchasing their own park admission. The biometric scanner measures the geometry of the fingers to ensure it is really me using the pass, but does not record finger prints as some have feared. Without such security measures, the benefits I receive from the annual passes would not be possible.
Disney is now expanding this policy, and has good reason to do so. Unlike the conventional amusement park, visitors at Walt Disney World typically go back and forth between four different theme parks, resorts, and other attractions such as Downtown Disney, the Boardwalk, and water parks. A pass which allows you to come and go as you please is preferable to paying for a single park admission, and paying again should you desire to enter the same or a different theme park the same day. Disney also sells multi-day passes for a considerable discount over a single day admission. In order to offer these types of passes, it is necessary for Disney to be certain that the same person is using the pass each time. The biometric scanners are a sensible solution to this problem. The Disney will also accept alternative identification, so it is possible for those who really oppose such measures to avoid the biometric scanners. This can also be avoided by purchasing single admission passes which eliminate the need for scanning.
Rather than attacking Disney for a practice which is nonintrusive and which is justified by their business needs, it would make far more sense to monitor for any potential abuses. If Disney were to use this information for any other purpose, or if it were to share it with others, there might be cause for alarm. So far there is no evidence that these scans are used for any nefarious purpose.
Some have also complained of the high level of security present in Disney parks. As a parent, I find their level of security reassuring, and that is one of the reasons I have taken so many vacations there. Nobody has suggested that the security of Disney theme parks should be a model for the rest of the country as a whole, although it is hard to argue that the Disney influence on Time Square also hasn't been for the better.
Some liberal bloggers fear that Americans are being conditioned by these scanners so that they will be more willing to provide finger prints to government agencies in the future. I hate to extrapolate from Walt Disney World to the rest of the country, but for those who wish to I have a more palatable vision. Use of the biometric scanner requires quests to extend their second and third digits. In other words, guests entering Disney parks are encouraged to make a peace sign before entering. I wonder if some conservative bloggers will realize this and fear that Americans are being conditioned to be opposed to war.