Cafe chain offers free coffees and cakes after ‘spying’ on customers with app

A coffee chain with branches across the UK says it plans to give free hot drinks and baked goods to compensate customers that it 'spied' on for a year.

Canadian coffee giant Tim Hortons has agreed to settle four court cases over claims it used a mobile coffee app to track customers' precise movements.

The chain's mobile app allegedly not only tracked whether a customer was entering or leaving one of its branches, but also when they were going to work, home, a sports venue, or even a competitor coffee chain.

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The company reportedly gathered precise geolocation data on its customers for well over a year, but has now agreed to compensate 'eligible app users' with a free hot drink and a free pastry.

That amounts to £5.47 per customer. In an email to customers, Tim Hortons said: "As part of the proposed settlement agreement, eligible app users will receive a free hot beverage and a free baked good. Distribution details will be provided following approval, in the event that the court approves the settlement."

According to VICE, the company added: "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."

The settlement came after Tim Hortons went through a national class action lawsuit in Canada, with regulators saying its data collection violated Canadian law by keeping such close tabs on users.

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Daniel Therrien, Canada's Privacy Commissioner, said: "Tim Hortons clearly crossed the line by amassing a huge amount of highly sensitive information about its customers.

"Following people's movements every few minutes of every day was clearly an inappropriate form of surveillance. This case once again highlights the harms that can result from poorly designed technologies as well as the need for strong privacy laws to protect the rights of Canadians."

Customers in Canada will be able to claim their freebies after the court approves the settlement.

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