The BLOGFlume—The Heat is On
Apple and Disney dealing, a denial of ridership at Busch Gardens Tampa, and a privacy question.
Written by Russell Meyer
Digital Lifestyles 7/20/05
Apple-owned iTunes and Radio Disney have announced a deal that will allow songs on the nationwide radio network to be purchased through iTunes. The deal also allows iTunes to stream Radio Disney through the iTunes website, and gives parents a great online destination for children’s music. Not only that, but Apple is currently negotiating with Disney and it’s television subsidiaries ABC and ESPN for the rights to digital videos. Apple is also working on deals with other movie and television companies to pave the way for the Apple “vPod”. The digital video player is the next step for Apple’s immensely popular iPod, and could revolutionize the way people watch TV and home movies. The product is still under tight wraps, but could be ready for release at the end of this year or early next year with downloads of digital video starting at $1.99. With Apple and Disney doing so much negotiating with music and video, could Pixar be part of the negotiations? While there are no reports suggesting such dealings, the recent talks between Apple and Disney could easily become relevant to the Pixar situation. As Apple is trying to solidify itself as a provider of digital media, Disney could be trying to use Pixar as a bargaining chip in any deal struck with Apple.
It seems that theme parks are doing whatever they can to error on the side of caution these days. Around the country, there have been incidents of guests with potential pre-existing conditions dying on attractions. However, Busch Gardens Tampa has managed to create a bit of negative publicity by trying to avoid such an incident. An 8-year old girl, who competes in swimming events in the National Junior Disability Championships, was denied access to three water rides. Jessica Rogers suffers from lumbosacral agenesis, a condition that stunted the growth of her legs, which were amputated. Unfortunately Jessica had left her prosthetic legs at home, and ride attendants did not want to risk strapping a person into attractions that have a primary harness that secures the lower portion of the body. This situation poses a very interesting question: Should theme parks do whatever is possible to make attraction accessible to everyone, and risk an incident caused by a guest’s pre-existing condition, or should they create negative publicity by turning away guests because they don’t want to take a chance?
In a litigious society like the United States, it’s difficult to blame Busch Gardens for turning this little girl away. Who wants to take responsibility and bear the inevitable lawsuit if someone with no legs is ejected from an attraction? However, what theme park wants to prohibit children from riding, especially disabled children? Disney actually had a problem last year when a rider was ejected from the Mad Hatter’s Teacups, primarily because of a lack of strength in the lower body. The ADA requires that theme parks provide adequate access to rides and attractions for people with disabilities, but if disabled people cannot be secured by an attraction’s restraints, those people have to be denied access. It may break the hearts of little kids and anger their parents, but if we want to have theme parks to go to 30 years from now, parks cannot risk any major lawsuits or endure negative publicity centered around safety.
An interesting commentary by former congressman Bob Barr discusses the consequences of biometric scans. Disney and Busch have begun to use hand scans for passholders -Busch for annual passes, Disney for all ticket holders. The system is rather convenient. You place your hand on a scanner, and hand the attendant your pass, and your identity is verified. No need for a picture, no need for an I.D., just give the park your hand geometry, and you’re in. The question here is, are the use of biometric scans for identification purposes an invasion of privacy? Your handprints and fingerprints are unique to you, and by turning them over to a theme park database, you in a way are giving them a piece of you. I personally don’t think these hand scans are an invasion of your privacy, even though many laws state that fingerprinting for non-criminal purposes is an invasion. In fact, I’d be interested in seeing them used for legal identification, so that identity theft, one of the most rapidly growing forms of crime in this country, can be quelled. However, by allowing these types of scans, we are opening ourselves up to even more invasive scans. A line needs to be drawn quickly before we’re giving a drop of blood or a hair for DNA identification. There has even been discussion of “tagging” criminals with sub-dermal computer chips that can allow police to identify criminals with a simple scanner, rather Orwellian I'd say. While I don’t think a theme park would ever go as far as imbedded chips or DNA identification, a standard for personal identification needs to be established in this country that is reliable, yet not an invasion of a person’s privacy.
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