Tim Hortons Doles Out Some Coffee Pocket Change In Response To Location Data Scandal

from the i-see-u dept

We’ve noted for years how U.S. consumer location data is routinely abused by a long list of bad actors, including wireless carriers, broadband providers, app makers, adtech companies, data brokers, police, people pretending to be police, governments, and more.

It’s also, not too surprisingly, a problem in Canada.

Restaurant chain Tim Hortons was recently found to have been collecting “vast amounts of sensitive location data” in violation of Canadian privacy laws. More specifically, one report found the app tracked a user’s location over 2,700 times in less than half a year any time they left home, visited a competitors, or hit a local sports venue, and the restaurant chain mislead users into thinking the tracking would only occur when the app was in use.

Worry not though, as part of a new settlement with the company, it says it will be giving impacted customers enough money for a “hot beverage and a free baked good” with a total retail value of $8.58:

As is usually the case, the payout (accompanied with no formal admission of fault) is likely a tiny fraction of the money gleaned off of collecting user location data and then sending it to any nitwit with a nickel. Here in the States, the overturning of Roe has finally resulted in folks taking concern about the potential abuse of this data more seriously, although meaningful reform still remains difficult to come by.

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Companies: tim hortons

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Comments on “Tim Hortons Doles Out Some Coffee Pocket Change In Response To Location Data Scandal”

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Rich (profile) says:

The users are to blame.

What do people think the app is for? Of course, it’s tracking you. Of course it’s collecting your data, location, personal habits, etc. Why the fuck else would an app, designed to run on a piece of hardware that always knows your location, is always online, and has all of your personal data in one convenient package, be pushed on you by people who sell food?

Really, people still haven’t figured this out yet?!?

For fuck’s sake, if you install a free app on your phone, branded by a corporation that has nothing to do with technology or communication services, and offers no actual function that warrants a software install, beyond what any half-assed web site could provide, then they are taking your data, sifting it, and selling whatever they can to the highest bidder. Want it to stop? Then wake the fuck up, and stop installing whatever the fuck shiny thing a salesperson tells you to on your personal data collection and surveillance device! See? Wasn’t that simple???


Anonymous Coward says:


offers no actual function that warrants a software install, beyond what any half-assed web site could provide

Except the “half-assed web site” does not always exist. Sometimes there’s just the app. This app, specifically, I’ve heard can be used to bypass lines. EG: someone walks into a Tim Hortons, sees a long line, installs the app and places a mobile order; then their food/drink comes quickly. (The unfairness of this is its own problem.)

Google/Apple should be taking some blame here too. They should not allow app makers to force people to grant any permissions—especially sensitive ones like location. That’s pretty much the law in Europe—no data can be collected without consent unless absolutely necessary—but it’s not easy enough to control, and such controls often aren’t available at all where not compelled by law. It should also be possible and easy to provide fake data, to be used in case of passive-aggressive retaliation by app makers (when people choose not to provide real data); and “vagueified” data instead of precise data.

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