TinFoil Tuesday: Disney’s Biometric FascismSeptember 4th, 2012
In the recent explosion of militarized police presence in the streets of Anaheim, California many out here in the blogosphere took the opportunity to refurbish old editorials on the rise of the police state. Every time State aggression expands the vigilant point and scream, “Do you see what they’re doing? Is it obvious enough yet? How bad does it have to be before you’ll admit this is totalitarianism!?” But many of the locals in Anaheim weren’t pointing at the State. They were pointing at Disneyland.
Disneyland has long enjoyed tremendous autonomy to impose its own rules within its walls. For those who criticize those rules as authoritarian and Orwellian the incident in Anaheim was viewed as an expression of Disneyland’s influence outside its walls. I don’t find that claim too credible, because we’ve seen similar police crowd control tactics all around the country. Stop and frisks, SWAT raids, mass arrests, military vehicles and some more nefarious activities that aren’t always admitted to. But what are Disney’s authoritarian credentials?
Well… what if I told you that many of the tactics used by the NSA to secretly spy on Americans originated with Disney. WikiLeaks recently published some internal emails from the private security firm Stratfor that describe a widespread surveillance network called “TrapWire” that they say was created and is run by former members of the CIA. (There are no ‘former’ members of the CIA). One of the founders said the software “can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition.”
An article in the Guardian about the multi-billion dollar biometric technologies industry included this story about Disneyland:
A software engineer … visited Disneyland, and … the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.
It turns out that Disney collects biometric data from their visitors by scanning fingerprint information and identifying people with facial recognition software. Walt Disney World is the nation’s largest single commercial application of biometric surveillance, in fact many US intelligence agencies consult Disney, and recruit from Disney employees.
Disney executive Gordon Levin helped the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies develop a plan for “Passenger Protection and Identity Verification” at airports by using biometrics. Eric Haseltine went from the executive vice president of research and development at Walt Disney Imagineering to associate director for research at the NSA and then assistant director for science and technology.
So, in many ways Disneyland is a training ground for future government agents to develop, implement and master the technology needed to maintain a completely controlled environment under constant surveillance that collects unsuspecting patron’s private biometric data which it willingly shares with the State.
But it gets weirder. What if I told you that Disney has had a long and loyal love affair with fascism going all the way back to the Walt Disney’s alleged admiration of Adolf Hitler himself.
In 1932, Disney produced a cartoon called “The Wayward Canary” in which Mickey Mouse uses a cigarette lighter with a swastika on it. Keep in mind, in 1932 the Third Reich was not yet established, Hitler’s authoritarianism and anti-Semitism were not as well known as they are today, and he would not become Chancellor of Germany for another year. Disney took an interest in the German American Federation (also called the German American Bund) which was fiercely pro-Nazi, and in fact dedicated their time, money and energy to promoting a pro-Nazi image in the states. It’s also known that Walt Disney visited Nazi Germany in 1935, and rumored that he met with Hitler in Munich. Some even allege that the concept of Disneyland was originally Hitler’s.
During World War II Disney produced many pro-American propaganda cartoons that were unmistakably anti-Nazy, but that doesn’t necessarily disprove his admiration for the man, or fascism and authoritarianism itself… within his own walls.
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