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June 1 (Reuters) – Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons' mobile app regularly tracked and recorded locations of its users even when their app was not open in violation of the country's privacy laws, Canada's privacy regulator said on Wednesday in a report concluding a two-year-old investigation.
"Tim Hortons clearly crossed the line by amassing a huge amount of highly sensitive information about its customers," Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien said in a statement that underscored harms that can result from "poorly designed technologies."
The investigation was opened in 2020 after concerns emerged about the coffee chain's collection and use of data. The company said it has removed a location-tracking technology from its app.
The joint investigation by federal and provincial authorities also found that Tim Hortons lacked a robust privacy management program for the app, which could have helped the company identify and address many of the privacy issues, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) said in a statement.
The privacy authorities recommended that Tim Hortons delete any remaining location data and maintain a privacy program to checks its app and ensure users are clearly informed about data collection.
The Restaurant Brands International-owned (QSR.TO) company has agreed to the recommendations.
Tim Hortons said it had removed the geolocation technology from the Tims app and that location data from it was never used for personalized marketing for individual users.
"We've strengthened our internal team that's dedicated to enhancing best practices when it comes to privacy and we’re continuing to focus on ensuring that guests can make informed decisions about their data when using our app," it said in a statement.
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