Universal Orlando testing photo validation technology for express passes

Posted Friday, February 17, 2017 8:43 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Visitors using an express pass were asked to stand in a particular spot, put their pass — which incorporates a photo — on a ledge and look at a lens straight ahead. After a moment, a tone signaled approval and riders moved to the loading area.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Friday, February 17, 2017 8:47 AM
Jeff's avatar

This is a really terrible idea. This isn't some algorithmic hash of a person's finger that isn't useful to anyone else, this is actually measuring the dimensions of a person's face with their photo. It's totally invasive and should drive privacy advocates nuts. It's also cosmically stupid because the human already standing there can proof a photo without additional cost. I have to imagine that express pass fraud is not actually a problem, as resort guests already have them as families, and if you can afford one as a non-guest, I don't imagine you're sharing it.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Friday, February 17, 2017 9:47 AM

Interesting. In one way, I agree with you. It does seem very much like a privacy issue and kind of creepy, honestly.

On the other hand, isn't this sort of like a MagicBand? It monitors your actual face, yes, but both can show what you visited when, what your preferences are, etc.

There's really not enough info in the article to understand why they're doing these tests. I certainly don't like that statement about selling your image to third parties though. Why? Why do they need that?


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Friday, February 17, 2017 10:45 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

The issue I'd have is that it involves your actual face, which Universal can share with third parties. What Disney has in place is still creepy -- they know where you are and what you do throughout your visit -- but as noted, it's not useful information outside of Disney.


Why is it that when men go to the bathroom, they stand up and take aim instead of sitting down and taking five?-- Linda Ellerbee

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Friday, February 17, 2017 11:12 AM
Jeff's avatar

It's nothing like a Magicband. A Magicband is just an RFID tag that computers read as a series of numbers. Those numbers are associated with an account, but they're not physically part of you, and you can take it off. None of it is of any use outside of their closed system.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Friday, February 17, 2017 11:32 AM

When it came to the fingerprint systems, I thought there was some comfort in that they were not storing actual finger prints but numeric data that resulted from some formula applied to the fingerprint. Could the same thing be done with faces such that actual faces were not stored but only used with same type of formula to generate numeric data? Still more intrusive on its face (pun possibly unavoidable) but in reality less so.

Last edited by GoBucks89, Friday, February 17, 2017 11:58 AM
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Friday, February 17, 2017 12:07 PM

Seems more than just numeric data...

“During this test, a facial image will be stored and automatically validated by our system,” a sign outside the Cat in the Hat ride said. Universal employees and “third-party suppliers” can view the image, the sign indicated.

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Friday, February 17, 2017 1:27 PM

I agree that it doesn't look like its a numeric data system. My question is could it be and if it was, would there be less of a concern.

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Friday, February 17, 2017 2:16 PM

"During this test, a facial image will be stored and automatically validated by our system."

Yikes. One would expect to see language like this in a prison visitation room, not an amusement park. Whoever came up with it should be tested immediately to make sure cyborgs haven't infiltrated Universal's offices a la Westworld. Note to park managers and all other humans who can see this: progress and technology are not the same thing.

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Friday, February 17, 2017 2:30 PM
kpjb's avatar

I don't see the difference in them taking your picture for a season pass and taking it for an express pass.

Can someone fill me in on why the privacy line was drawn between these two similar things?


Hi

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Friday, February 17, 2017 3:49 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I'm assuming it's the sharing with third parties part, but I tend to agree. I don't see the scary.

I think looking at fingerprints (even if it was converted to numerical data) is more invasive just given the uniqueness and fact that it takes effort for someone in general to obtain them. Your face? You show it to everyone, everywhere you go, all the time.


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Friday, February 17, 2017 3:55 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

kpjb said:

Can someone fill me in on why the privacy line was drawn between these two similar things?

For me? Because a season pass has a photo that is compared to your actual face by a person. This pass from Universal compares the photo digitally to your face and can make the information thus captured accessible to third parties.


Why is it that when men go to the bathroom, they stand up and take aim instead of sitting down and taking five?-- Linda Ellerbee

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Friday, February 17, 2017 4:36 PM
Jeff's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
I think looking at fingerprints (even if it was converted to numerical data) is more invasive just given the uniqueness and fact that it takes effort for someone in general to obtain them. Your face? You show it to everyone, everywhere you go, all the time.

Not really. When a park is using the finger readers, they're associating a string of characters that results from it (foi4thi490348j809g34odsg) with an ID for your account (23423591). This data has no use anywhere, to anyone, outside of this system, and can't even be used in that system until I voluntarily put my finger on the sensor. I mean, the account itself is tied to little more than your name (and I assume your birthday, but I'm not even sure if that's mandatory). If I walk into some arbitrary place in the world, that data does not correlate to me in any way.

The photo is an image of your actual likeness, plus the mathematical representation of your futures. I don't know what third parties would be doing with this, or why it would be released to them (unless by third party they really mean the vendor of the technology), but if that data was given or sold (or leaked) to anyone, anywhere in the world, they can use the technology to identify me virtually anywhere I go, without me having any say to opt-in to that system. That's a new level of creepy and as privacy invasive as you can get.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Friday, February 17, 2017 4:48 PM

Jetsetter said:

"During this test, a facial image will be stored and automatically validated by our system."

Yikes. One would expect to see language like this in a prison visitation room, not an amusement park. Whoever came up with it should be tested immediately to make sure cyborgs haven't infiltrated Universal's offices a la Westworld. Note to park managers and all other humans who can see this: progress and technology are not the same thing.

Remember this is the same park that thinks it's OK to all but strip-search their customers and put them through a magnetometer every time they want to ride a coaster. Are we seeing a theme here?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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Friday, February 17, 2017 5:32 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:
That's a new level of creepy and as privacy invasive as you can get.

Honestly, I expected that this happens a lot more than we know. Anywhere your photo can be taken and matched to personal info has the same potential.

I mean, the grocery store has cameras on every checkout and I give them my credit card info and often a reward card with personal info like address and stuff. And plate readers already cross reference my car registration.

I suppose it's different that actively creating a database, but...I dunno. Seems like anyone caring enough to know where I go can already find that out.

I'm not really disagreeing, I'm just not finding myself as alarmed as I want to be.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Friday, February 17, 2017 5:32 PM
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Friday, February 17, 2017 6:10 PM

Public and private are opposites. Expectation of privacy while in public is next to none. Someone could take pictures of everyone they see in public, create a database of the pictures and get together with people around the world and share and compare and track people as they move about the globe in public. Technology just allows that to be done must more quickly and on a much wider scale. Not sure how different interests will be balanced as we move forward.

In terms of images online, it seems to me many people (especially younger people) are very much accustomed to having their image (and many other aspects of their lives) online. And shared through social media. Without giving much of a thought about how many times their images or other identifying info are shared across the web. How many people on this site have links to their facebook, twitter, etc. accounts here that contain pictures of themselves with real names and other identifying info? Can't that info be used to identify people at many places in the world in public to at least some degree?

And the vast majority of people carry devices with them pretty much always that can and do track are whereabouts always. And we want that. Does it happen when we don't want it? Not sure but certainly has to be possible.

Last edited by GoBucks89, Friday, February 17, 2017 6:54 PM
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Friday, February 17, 2017 9:27 PM

Jeff said:

It's also cosmically stupid because the human already standing there can proof a photo without additional cost.

This.

Why spend the $$$ to have a machine cross-check your express pass pic with your face? You can pay a human $7.25/hr to do that--and a machine requires a human attendant, anyhow.

Also, what happens if the computer kicks out a false "negative?" The human can see your face matches your pass pic, but the computer says no. Do they call over a supervisor to decide if you are, in fact, you?


This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

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Saturday, February 18, 2017 1:17 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

*sigh* Lord Gonchar has a point. Again.

Yes, we are not anonymous. Businesses can track where we go, what we buy, what we do for entertainment, and so on. My initial reaction here was to the notion that they were doing digitally what could easily be handled by staff, and, essentially, announcing that they would be selling the information.

I read a fascinating article a few years back: the hook for the story was an angry dad calling his local Target to complain Target was sending adverts to his sweet, virginal daughter that included items a pregnant woman would buy.

Target, by analyzing what was being bought, tying that into credit and debit cards used, matching all that data up with publically available (if at a cost) information, was able to determine when women had just learned they were pregnant. With that information, they could send targeted advertising to specific customers -- such as the daughter mentioned above. (The father called a few days later to apologize to the manager; his daughter had just informed him she was, indeed, pregnant.)

GoBucks89 said:

In terms of images online, it seems to me many people (especially younger people) are very much accustomed to having their image (and many other aspects of their lives) online. And shared through social media. Without giving much of a thought about how many times their images or other identifying info are shared across the web.

In the word of Gia Gunn, ab-so-lute-ly. Sometimes to their detriment if they've posted pictures of themselves drunk at a party, for example. Potential employers may frown on that.

Heck, ten years ago, when I got hired by Ticketmaster, my boss told me they searched me out online and were very amused to find pictures of me in a spandex one piece, portraying Aqualad at a comic book convention.


Why is it that when men go to the bathroom, they stand up and take aim instead of sitting down and taking five?-- Linda Ellerbee

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Saturday, February 18, 2017 3:03 AM

RideMan said:
Remember this is the same park that thinks it's OK to all but strip-search their customers and put them through a magnetometer every time they want to ride a coaster. Are we seeing a theme here?

This happens at Universal Singapore too. This is actually the main reason why I haven't gone back on my last few trips to that country – it's just too much hassle to take everything out of zipped pockets and put it into a locker for every single ride. It's a shame really because I like the park; I'd probably own a season pass otherwise (I'm there every eight weeks or so for work).


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