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Date: 2006-09-03

Fingerprints für Mickey Mouse

Die Disney Corporation, die das weltgrößte, zivile Fingerprintsystem unterhält, hat dieses einem Upgrade unterzogen. Bereits Mitte der 90er Jahre mischte Disney - lange Zeit als einziges Unternehmen aus dem zivilen Sektor - im Biometric Consortium der NSA bei der Erstellung von Biometrie-Standards mit.
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For years, Disney has recorded onto tickets the geometry and shape of visitors' fingers to prevent ticket fraud or resale, as an alternative to time-consuming photo identification checks.

By the end of September, all of the geometry readers at Disney's four Orlando theme parks will be replaced with machines that scan fingerprint information, according to industry experts familiar with the technology. The four parks attract tens of millions of visitors each year.


Privacy advocates disagree. They believe Disney has not fully disclosed the purpose of its new system. There are no signs posted at the entrances detailing what information is being collected and how it is being used. Attendants at the entrances will explain the system, if asked.

"The lack of transparency has always been a problem," said Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. She said Disney's use of the technology "fails a proportionality test" by requiring too much personal information for access to rollercoasters.

"What they're doing is taking a technology that was used to control access to high-level security venues and they're applying it to controlling access to a theme park," Coney said.

George Crossley, president of the Central Florida ACLU, said, "It's impossible for them to convince me that all they are getting is the fact that that person is the ticket-holder."


The government may have wanted Disney's expertise because Walt Disney World has the nation's largest single commercial application of biometrics, said Jim Wayman, director of the National Biometric Test Center at San Jose State University.

"The government was very aware of what Disney was doing," he said.


Although Disney will not disclose who makes its fingerprint scanners, biometrics experts said the new technology is likely provided by New Mexico-based Lumidigm Inc. That company also has received funding from the CIA as well as the National Security Agency and the Defense Department, according to founder and CEO Bob Harbour.

[...] After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, one Disney executive, Gordon Levin, was part of a group convened by the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies to help develop a plan for "Passenger Protection and Identity Verification" at airports, using biometrics.

Levin also was part of a group asked by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Security Agency to develop national standards for the biometrics industry.

But he is not the only Disney employee to lend his expertise to the government.

Former Disney employees have filled some of the most sensitive positions in the U.S. intelligence and security communities. For example:

-Eric Haseltine left his post as executive vice president of research and development at Walt Disney Imagineering in 2002 to become associate director for research at the NSA, and he is now National Intelligence Director John Negroponte's assistant director for science and technology.

-Bran Ferren has served on advisory boards for the Senate Intelligence Committee and offered his technological expertise to the NSA and the DHS. [...]


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edited by Harkank
published on: 2006-09-03
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