EFF to Comic-Con: protect our secret identities!

Dave from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez, "What we don't want to see is massive tracking using RFID chips (or any other easily trackable or hackable technology) in badges, whether that's real-time tracking or requiring check-ins at every panel entrance. Obviously, these are very public events and an attendee can't expect a lot of privacy -- they're likely to pop up in the background of hundreds of photographs posted to social media. At the same time, there is a certain anonymity in crowds, and it's an anonymity built into the culture of cons."

"Limitless" is not a word we like to see associated with locational tracking. There should absolutely be limits. Newsarama's piece discusses the possibility of 1-to-1 person tracking, a technology that could theoretically allow a controller to follow say, Stan Lee, as he makes his rounds along a convention floor. That, indeed, would be an astonishing development for the pop-culture-razzi, but only if Stan the Man agreed to it himself. And by "agree," we mean a fully-informed permission, not the fuzzy consent that happened this year with Twitter access.

What we don't want to see is massive tracking using RFID chips (or any other easily trackable or hackable technology) in badges, whether that's real-time tracking or requiring check-ins at every panel entrance. Obviously, these are very public events and an attendee can't expect a lot of privacy—they're likely to pop up in the background of hundreds of photographs posted to social media. At the same time, there is a certain anonymity in crowds, and it's an anonymity built into the culture of cons.

How many fans would steer clear of controversial graphic novels or manga tables (or even cheesy guilty childhood pleasures) if they knew someone was creating a log of every booth where they lingered? Think about the young LGBT artists who have yet to come out to their parents, but are finding the courage through sitting in the back of a queer comics panel. Would they still enter if they had to scan their personally identifiable badges at the door? Once you open the gate to this technology for third-party marketing, businesses outside the convention hall will be able to track your attendees. Won't that chill the tradition of proudly wearing a badge every moment, from the pre-preview night happy hour to the last after party?

An Open Letter to All the Comic Cons: Protect Our Secret Identities

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