How Much Personal Information is Too Much

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This is a must read on Vail’s new RFID and social media strategy. I have known the inventor of Ski Pass Defender which blocks the RFID chips for several years. This is Big Brother and then some. They know when you’ve been sleeping and know when you’re awake. The revenue streams have dried up and once they are linked to you, who knows where they will sell the information. Facebook already has some pretty reprehensible data protection policies, so you are opening your ski experience to the world.

On August 30th, 2010 Vail Resorts announced EpicMix. This feature which comes included in all RFID enabled passes will link you with your virtual persona. This shall collect data and store it in Vail’s servers, soon to be a server farm I imagine. With the acceptance and adoption of Social Gaming (Farmville, Bejeweled), and the advent of Geolocation/Geotagging offerings such as Foursquare and Facebook Places, Vail Resorts has developed a fantastic integrated product. One which will be compelling to use. It shall be social networking “candy” to the active person. Skiers and riders shall be advertising their accomplishments, while Vail gets to advertise across social media platforms. The guest shall be able to register themselves with the click of an “Allow” button.
Vail Resorts has come with a tour de force of social media, skier/rider statistics, friend logistics/locations, etc within this platform. It has been a long time coming, but it is here and will be developed.
The features to the guest are vast:
* Automatically tracking data of vertical feet, days on the mountain
* Digital pins for special achievements
* Mobile phone integration
* Social Media platform integration
* Coordinating with friends on the slope
* Weather Reports & Traffic updates
* Integrated EpicMix website for adults and juniors
* Keeping track of lost children and members of a group
Vail Resorts has also created a phone app for iphone and Android phones. Are you ready for lunch special alerts being sent to your phone? Would you like to have alerts sent to you based on your ski terrain preferences? I have little doubt that these shall come too.
In short, it will be a fun product for many guests.
As for privacy concerns, Mr. Rob Katz (CEO Vail Resorts) said the information belongs to each individual and they don’t have to choose to share it via social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Vail Resorts already knew when skiers and snowboarders were riding the mountain in previous seasons because that information is recorded when passes are scanned, he said.
As for my privacy concerns, there are MANY, but I will address just a few here.
1. Vail Resorts does know if you are riding on the mountain on a given day. But they did not know where you ski during the course of your day. There were scanners only on the base mountain lifts.
2. They know where you eat and what you eat (if you eat in a VR establishment and use your Resort charge). Now it can be easily linked
3. The information is your own…. And VRs as well!
4. With several scanners linked, speed of skier can be determined
5. Which secret tree run did you ski.
6. Where did an employee ski on their day off, and much did they ski or ride.
7. Playing hooky from work, or taking a break from your work day… if you are linked to Social Media. Everybody knows.
8. Autonomy on the mountain.
9. The more scanners placed around the mountain, the more you will be tracked.
The list goes on for me.

My personal concern–what if people see the dude that runs is a total poseur who mostly skis “Bunny Run” and spends half days in the lodge? What if my work or my wife found out how many days I sneak out for a lap or two when I am “working” at the condo?
I like my privacy at least a little bit.

One thought on “How Much Personal Information is Too Much”

  1. Absolutely the only thing I’ll be using Epic Mix for is to track my own personal stats, not annoying my friends on Facebook.
    I agree with #1, at Vail I usually scan in once at the base and spend my entire day on the backside and never get scanned again. Vail has been somewhat silent if their additional RF receivers throughout the rest of the mountain were existing or if they were installed recently for Epic Mix.
    As far as I know Vail still issues one day paper tickets that don’t contain an RF chip so those folks are safe. Anyone else not interested in being tracked would have to invest in a Faraday cage.

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