Iger the Ignorant? Disney Chief Says Kids Don’t Care About Privacy?

mickeyJuly 24, 2009 Hey, kids, did you know the mouse house thinks it’s okay to mine your personal information and sell it to advertisers to make a buck off your back without your permission?

Wonder what Maine legislators that just banned data mining of minors will say to that?  (h/t to Ypulse and Privo!)

Reuters reports Disney CEO Robert Iger is bullish on direct web marketing to consumers, and seems to think  tracking kids’ preferences and selling your likes and dislikes with every keystroke is a-ok fine…After all, “older consumers” are the ones that hate ad spam and digital clutter, not you guys. ‘Zat right? Really?

“Kids don’t care,” Iger said, adding that when he talked to his adult children about their online privacy concerns “they can’t figure out what I’m talking about.” Ahem. I’d start with “a.) I highly doubt that…and b.) Would that make it okay?

Just how old are these children? What constitutes ‘kids?’ Should children’s rights as tweens and teens be usurped by profiteers just because they ‘can?’ Gee, and we wonder why there’s such a big fuss at the policy and protections level of kids privacy and data mining. Enough to literally “make a federal case out of it.”

candylandPerhaps he meant something along the lines of “kids don’t appear as concerned as adults about privacy” or even “kids tune out ad spam and are desensitized to annoying ploys”…but that’s not remotely close to his stance.

Mr. Iger just set back his industry pals luring kids with ‘sweet deals’ and marketing opportunities into ‘Gooey Gumdrops Land’ or ‘Molasses Swamp’ in the Candyland board game of life…(visual credit to Clevver.com who reminds a Candyland movie is in the works)

Soooo……maybe that’s ultimately the best solution in itself? Let industry sink in its own candy-coated quagmire of “spin” and colorful interpretations while youth advocates rest from pounding against the digital wall to broker reasonable middle ground. At least then we wouldn’t be subjected to belittling, sour-note headlines like  this one, “FCC to Study Media & Kids to Aid ‘Scared Parents.’

I am not a ‘scared parent.’ I am a ticked off parent.

Big diff on the need for reform, Bloomberg at al

In fact, this has nothing to do with fear of the big bad media wolf, (says the media maven mama) and EVERYthing to with kids’ rights as consumers and clear lines of FCC demarcation when it comes to boundaries, product placement and even creative context.

The only thing I’m ‘afraid of’ is the civility of discourse devolving into a ‘them vs. us’ fist-to-cuffs which sets up divisiveness over solutions-based, common sense thinking.

I mean, really, Mr. Iger…Have you talked to kids other than your own about privacy and permissions?

Last I checked with industry research AND youth attending conferences like the recent Ypulse National Mashup, teens DID want to control their own consumer information rather than be commodified.

In fact, looking at my notes, they echo Ypulse live-blogger Derek Baird’s recap here which sums:

“A Harris Interactive poll found that 59% of youth are willing to provide personal info to get targeted information in return, but be aware that teens have high expectations for privacy controls, user experience, want to be in full control of their info.”


ESPECIALLY when it comes to mobile…Specifically, 6 out 0f 10 teens would be willing to provide info only if they controlled the terms…(that’s a lower willingness to provide profile info than adults!)

This Harris Interactive 30pp TeenMobile Study research report shows  ONLY 5% would agree to provide profile info without a return on their ‘investment’ or some entitlement/incentive… Plus 9% are NOT AT ALL interested whatsoever!

Bill Carter of Fuse shared this 25pp teen study at Ypulse saying “only 10% of teens approve of in-game ads” (and they don’t buy into the whole ‘it makes it more authentic’ bit)

AND…phones were dead last in ‘acceptability’ of ad messaging! (90% of teens text, and 90% disapprove of advertisers texting them)

What can we surmise from this?

Clearly nothing close to Mr. Iger’s words.

Teens DO want their privacy from marketers. Moreover…

Teens want control and choice over their own personal data (don’t we ALL?)

And IF teens decide they want to receive some ‘sweet deal,’ or FREEBIE, they want to ‘opt-in’ with their favorite brands rather than be served an empty digital diet of ads as junk food…

Kids are well aware of their increasingly commodified childhood and essentially are creating their own ‘quid pro quo’ data deal as if to brazenly say to corporations,

‘Fine, you can have it, but it’s gonna cost you’…

If you detect a bit of glee in my ‘rage against the machine’ stance, you’re not mistaken; I’m against mining data sans permissions at ANY age and find it objectionable that business seems to feel it’s their inalienable right to stalk-n-hawk kids’ preferences like predatory lechers…

I also think the price we pay to mine kids’ childhoods will ultimately cost us all. (my mantra, actually)

Disney’s Iger is salivating at the multiple ways to monetize content in the digital sphere,“There is a significant amount of headroom in being able to charge for something on the Internet,” he said.

Reuters reported Disney estimates that people pay $5 PER HOUR to see a movie in theater, 75 cents to read a book or magazine, 50 cents per hour for cable and 25 cents per hour for Internet content…so there’s huge ‘opportunity’ as they say in the business.

But let’s review the whole premise for a sec…

If kids’ data has been bought and sold without their approval, and now they’re being asked to subscribe to Disney content for a fee, aren’t they paying for it twice?

hardsell2Once with the sale of their personal privacy (both literally and figuratively) to a plethora of third party vendors and now again to the company they want to actually purchase something from? That doesn’t wash. Plus parents get hammered on both sides of that equation…as I wrote on the CBS four-part series awhile back called The Hard Sell to Kids…

That’s only one of the many privacy, data, and consumption cue bugaboos that have those inside and outside of the industry irked. (Of course, there are many nuances and degrees of irked…)

Where do YOU stand, readers?

Many public policy advocates would like marketers to leave kids alone completely…

Others feel COPPA’s ‘under 13’ rules are appropo for serving permissions-based content…

Some youth themselves want to decide what they do and don’t want to receive from brands and others want everything ‘free’ on the internet but can’t explain how it will be paid for…And many advocate media literacy as the answer…(lifelong learner Michele Martin rightfully opines that today’s online adults could use a dose of media literacy and critical thinking skills even more than kids!)

And, alas, some marketers treat kids as “mini-adults” due to sophisticated age compression, with little if any need for protection whatsoever. Will Disney parents backlash in this kids’ privacy conversation?

Back to Disney’s Robert Iger for a hot digital minute…

D-all things digital

Kara Swisher of D: All Things Digital, (at left) live-blogged Fortune magazine’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Pasadena quoting even more data nuggets of Robert Iger’s keynote that are worthy of considering in this arena (privacy/digital dollars/youth and more…)

Here’s an excerpt from Kara’s piece:

“This is the beginning of the beginning,” said Iger, who noted that it would be folly to guess what’s coming next in the digital arena.

A most excellent point that he made several times, adding that it was important for companies like Disney to keep trying out all sorts of things digitally, until they got it right.

“This notion of protecting the present is something that I talk a lot about [with employees],” said Iger, who wants them not to do that so much.

He noted that running a modern media company meant you had to have “one hand in the present and one hand in the future.”

Iger forgot about the hand that you might need to protect yourself from partners of the present–like big-box retailers, television affiliates, cable networks–who are going to come at you with a cudgel for giving the stuff you sell them away free on, say, Hulu.

Hulu, of course, is the popular, tiny-money-making premium online video service, which is a joint partnership of News Corp. (NWS), GE’s (GE) NBC Universal and now Disney.

“We believe in Hulu,” said Iger, who thinks its business model–currently just online advertising–might evolve over time.

But, he added, he was “somewhat skeptical” of any one answer to what is ahead. As in: Iger just does not know, which is probably the best thing a media mogul can say right now.”

Kara’s piece concludes with a ‘that was then, this is now’ feeling of where things are going in the digital Disney realm, and points to Iger’s determination to follow the yellow brick road of consumer preference into the online arena…Hulu, YouTube, the Totlol.com for wee ones, etc.

But that’s when Disney’s present day doings gets downright laughable, with the ultimate ‘new media-old media’ ironies coming into play between YouTube, Disney and copyright wars…

Disney wants to profit from online content, and as always, gain traction if not dominate the  digital sphere…Yet…

alice-logoAs Green Screen Cinema notes and Mashable reports in an age of  conversation and ‘open source’ digital data flinging hither and yon in buzz d’ jour mode, Disney just went ‘retro’…

They clamped down on the premature ‘leakage’ of the new Disney/Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland trailer slated to premiere at Comic Con yesterday.

It bounced around the blogosphere on YouTube, IGN.com, MSN.com and beyond (the movie premieres 3-5-10 with Johnny Depp in the lead role) and what did Disney do?

Promptly delete it for copyright reasons!

Way to have “one hand in the past!” (forget about the present and the future, ‘cmon now, Disney, you’re outta hands)

But then…I guess perhaps the trailer is something Disney prefers to keep private for now.

If only consumers were granted the same clout, capability, and control of our OWN privacy preferences and digital destinies.

Talk about building a better mousetrap.

Related Coverage of Disney/Iger:

FORTUNE: Brainstorm Tech 2009 (Iger’s Keynote)

Top Exec Profile, Robert Iger: Who He Is, What He’s Known For

CNET, Asia: Disney’s Iger: People Willing to Pay for Quality Content

Zimbio:  Disney’s CEO Says Hulu Could Charge for Content

CNET: Disney’s Iger: Content Need Not Be Free




  1. Nikon evidently ‘flubbed it’ offending women with babies at (of all places) BlogHer, by turning them away from a corp. event:


    It really makes me wonder sometimes how these various corp. execs can keep their jobs with silliness and gaffes coming out of their policies/practices. Odd. Really.

  2. Speaking of privacy issues…this in from NetFamilyNews…

    Identity/privacy/etc. etc.—

    “Giant database of stolen IDs

    The identities of some 4 million Britons and 40 million people worldwide (mostly Americans), are up for sale on the Internet to the highest bidder, The TimesOnline reports <http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/the_web/article6718560.ece>. “Highly sensitive financial information, including credit card details, bank account numbers, telephone numbers and even PINs are available to the highest bidder. At least a quarter of a million British bank and credit card accounts have been hacked into by cybercriminals, exposing consumers to huge financial losses.” All of it has been put into a single database built by a retired police officer in the UK who wants to offset his 160,000-pound ($263,000+) investment “by charging members of the public for access to his database to check whether their data security has been breached,” raising consumer-privacy questions (see the Times for more on this). This is and isn’t kid-tech news. It isn’t only at the superficial
    level: it’s about the privacy of Net users of all ages. It is because we need to start teaching our kids critical thinking about social and commercial influencing just about the same day they start using the Internet. Critical thinking is protective – of our psyches, identities, pocketbooks, and computers. Increasingly, phishers’ and other Internet fraudsters’ success is based on their social-engineering skills as much as their technical ones – creating messages that trick people into clicking to sites that download keylogger and other malicious software onto their computers or into typing passwords or account numbers into fake bank sites. Stark stories like this illustrate not only how important it is to fold computer security into new-media literacy ed but also what an opportune subject it is, for examining all forms of manipulation. See also “How social influencing works” <http://www.connectsafely.org/Safety-Advice-Articles/how-social-influencing-works.html>.

  3. And speaking of privacy…this one just landed in my FB convo:
    Chips in official IDs raise privacy fears

    “…Climbing into his Volvo, outfitted with a Matrics antenna and a Motorola reader he’d bought on eBay for $190, Chris Paget cruised the streets of San Francisco with this objective: To read the identity cards of strangers, wirelessly, without ever leaving his car.

    It took him 20 minutes to strike hacker’s gold.

    Zipping past Fisherman’s Wharf, his scanner detected, then downloaded to his laptop, the unique serial numbers of two pedestrians’ electronic U.S. passport cards embedded with radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags. Within an hour, he’d “skimmed” the identifiers of four more of the new, microchipped PASS cards from a distance of 20 feet.

    Embedding identity documents — passports, drivers licenses, and the like — with RFID chips is a no-brainer to government officials. Increasingly, they are promoting it as a 21st century application of technology that will help speed border crossings, safeguard credentials against counterfeiters, and keep terrorists from sneaking into the country.

    But Paget’s February experiment demonstrated something privacy advocates had feared for years: That RFID, coupled with other technologies, could make people trackable without their knowledge or consent.

    He filmed his drive-by heist, and soon his video went viral on the Web, intensifying a debate over a push by government, federal and state, to put tracking technologies in identity documents and over their potential to erode privacy.

    Putting a traceable RFID in every pocket has the potential to make everybody a blip on someone’s radar screen, critics say, and to redefine Orwellian government snooping for the digital age….” etc. etc.

    You’ve heard all this before…(cue the paranoia soundtrack, but hey, all valid for the conv.)

    AND…here’s a valid solution!! I have several of Valerie Landau’s passport protectors at http://figleaftechnologies.com

    It was the perfect Xmas gift for my GenY tribe-o-family ‘teen turned young adults’ 20+somethings…

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fn%2Fa%2F2009%2F07%2F11%2Ffinancial%2Ff113535D07.DTL#ixzz0MLzK7lPh

  4. Get one of Valerie Landau’s Passport Protectors:


  5. I already wrote that, silly! Look at the post above yours!!!

  6. Amy why am I not surprised that the corporate bum doesn’t care off of whose back he makes his bottom line fat.
    Thank you for letting us know this crape…and I hope we can pass it on to more bloggers so he gets our message not any of my children I’ll be speaking to my state assemblyman friend Jim Hayes and letting him know about this I’m sending him your post.

    Dorothy from grammology
    .-= Dorothy Stahlnecker´s last blog ..Temporary problem with comments =-.

  7. “If you are looking to monetize your website or content you should check out CPALead http://www.joincpalead.com/

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