Would You Trade Coffee & A Donut For Your Private Data?


Back in June, we reported on Canadian coffee company Tim Hortons allegedly using their app to collect and track users’ movements, all without their consent. First spotted in June 2020, the app allegedly continued to collect location data points from users every few minutes while running in the background, despite stating that it only tracked users while the app was open. The violation was investigated by the Canadian government and ultimately found to run afoul of their privacy laws.

So how much do you think your personal geolocation data is worth? Presumably a lot, right? I mean, they wouldn’t go through all the trouble of allegedly illegally acquiring it if it were somewhat valuable. Well, according to a new proposed settlement from Tim Hortons, your data is worth a cup of coffee and a donut.

As reported by Vice, the Canadian coffee giant is looking to settle a class action lawsuit with those users whose data was taken without their knowledge with “one free hot beverage and a free baked good.” The total value comes to a whopping $8.58 CAD ($6.67 USD) per user, $6.19 CAD and $2.39 CAD, respectively. The company began notifying effected users last week via email, the contents of which have since been shared on Twitter by James McLeod.

“We’re pleased to have reached a proposed settlement, subject to Court approval, in the four class action lawsuits in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario involving the Tim Hortons app…” Tim Hortons told Motherboard in an email. “All parties agree this is a fair settlement and we look forward to the Superior Court of Quebec’s decision on the proposal. We are confident that pending the Quebec court’s approval of the settlement, the courts in British Columbia and Ontario will recognize the settlement.”

It should be noted here that this near $9 CAD valuation is retail price. The actual cost to Tim Hortons per user is presumably much less. Along with the free coffee and pastry, the company also agrees to “ permanently delete any geolocation information about group members that may be in their possession and shall instruct its third-party vendor, Radar Labs, to do the same.” The email also notes that the settlement is not an “admission of liability,” a sentiment reiterated in the company’s statement to Vice: ““It’s important to emphasize that the allegations raised in the class actions were not proven in court and the settlement is not an admission of any wrongdoing.”

So there you have it, all your sweet, sweet data—2,700 points in five months for one user—procured illegally and without consent (again, allegedly), is worth a euphemism for a short time spent being called up from the minor leagues and a breakfast pasty bought by the dozen for a few bucks. Makes you wonder why they went through all that trouble to get it in the first place.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.






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