This issue of biometric scanning at the Walt Disney World parks has been frothing, as Greenspan would say, in the news for months now. The current change from scanning two fingers to one has increased interest in the subject again. So I think it’s important to clarify what Disney is actually doing. At least as I’ve been told by those who claim to know.
First, Disney is only scanning the fingerprints, not storing the images of them. As part of this process, they measure the distance between certain unique points in the finger print and then via a mathematical formula come up with a ‘score’ that represents the finger print. If you try to use the card again your score has to equal the score previously recorded on the card. It’s my understanding that this system is much simpler than would be required to proof identity in a court of law, but that might have changed with the new one-finger method.
You can choose to opt out of this system by showing an ID card at the gates, but Disney does not advertise this as it might slow the queue down. It’s slow enough with either system. Child-ticket holders also don’t have to scan their fingers.
My problem with this is that no one is allowed to verify that Disney is actually doing as they say and not keeping the data for more than 30 days after the ticket expires (and what does that mean if you buy a non-expiring ticket and never use the last day). And can the ‘score’ be used to link your WDW data to other finger printing data that the FBI or NSA might have on you. If it can, then there is a privacy concern as that data can be subpoenaed by the government or trial lawyers. If it has no use other than verification at Disney’s gates, I don’t see the reason for any hubbub. It’s the not knowing one way or the other that is the concern.
By the way, don’t even get me started about the system Disneyland is introducing for Annual Passholders. Not only will your photo be on your Annual Pass, but it will now show up on a little monitor that the ticket taker can see to verify that you are the person whose photo is on the card. Let’s hope that information is never stolen by hackers.