Archive for Tim Horton’s

The Office Of The Privacy Commissioner Of Canada Says Tim Horton’s Was Tracking You Illegally

Posted in Commentary with tags , on June 1, 2022 by itnerd

Tim Horton’s was recently under investigation by the The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada because of accusations that they were tracking you without your permission. The results of that investigation are now out and….

People who downloaded the Tim Hortons app had their movements tracked and recorded every few minutes of every day, even when their app was not open, in violation of Canadian privacy laws, a joint investigation by federal and provincial privacy authorities has found.

The investigation concluded that Tim Hortons’ continual and vast collection of location information was not proportional to the benefits Tim Hortons may have hoped to gain from better targeted promotion of its coffee and other products.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, and Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta issued their Report of Findings today.

The Tim Hortons app asked for permission to access the mobile device’s geolocation functions, but misled many users to believe information would only be accessed when the app was in use. In reality, the app tracked users as long as the device was on, continually collecting their location data.

The app also used location data to infer where users lived, where they worked, and whether they were travelling. It generated an “event” every time users entered or left a Tim Hortons competitor, a major sports venue, or their home or workplace.

The investigation uncovered that Tim Hortons continued to collect vast amounts of location data for a year after shelving plans to use it for targeted advertising, even though it had no legitimate need to do so.

The company says it only used aggregated location data in a limited way, to analyze user trends – for example, whether users switched to other coffee chains, and how users’ movements changed as the pandemic took hold.

While Tim Hortons stopped continually tracking users’ location in 2020, after the investigation was launched, that decision did not eliminate the risk of surveillance. The investigation found that Tim Hortons’ contract with an American third-party location services supplier contained language so vague and permissive that it would have allowed the company to sell “de-identified” location data for its own purposes.

There is a real risk that de-identified geolocation data could be re-identified. A research report by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada underscored how easily people can be identified by their movements.

None of this sounds good and doesn’t leave Tim Horton’s looking good. I suspect that because of that, Tim Horton’s agreed to these items:

  • Delete any remaining location data and direct third-party service providers to do the same;
  • Establish and maintain a privacy management program that: includes privacy impact assessments for the app and any other apps it launches; creates a process to ensure information collection is necessary and proportional to the privacy impacts identified; ensures that privacy communications are consistent with, and adequately explain app-related practices; and
  • Report back with the details of measures it has taken to comply with the recommendations.

This report makes it clear that you can’t trust Tim Horton’s and their apps. And even after the above items are implemented, I still wouldn’t trust them. So what does Tim Horton’s have to say about this? Not much really:

“Data from this geolocation technology was never used for personalized marketing for individual guests. The very limited use of this data was on an aggregated, de-identified basis to study trends in our business — and the results did not contain personal information from any guests,” spokesperson Michael Oliveira said in an email.

“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.”

Sure they are. I am not buying what they are saying.

It is worth noting that Tim Horton’s is still facing four class-action lawsuits in B.C., Ontario, and Quebec? So their issues are not over by a long shot.

Tim Horton’s In Resturant WiFi Blocks Access To Gay News Site #whatweretheythinking [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on July 19, 2013 by itnerd

Gee. If you want to get into the news for all the wrong reasons, I’m pretty sure that this would be on the list of ways to do it. Canadian coffee and doughnut king Tim Horton’s will not let let customers who use their in restaurant WiFi to access Xtra which is a gay news site according to the Toronto Star:

Staff at, the online home for the free newspaper Xtra that’s distributed in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, say they heard complaints from readers that the site was inaccessible at Tim Hortons.

The publication asked that the site be unblocked, assuming it might have been blacklisted in error.

But publisher and editor-in-chief Brandon Matheson says an email from Tim Hortons stated the site was “not appropriate for all ages viewing in a public environment.”

The email went on to say the company blocked as part of its mission to provide “a safe and pleasant experience” for customers and “a friendly environment.”

Oh, this has blown up on Twitter big time. Do a search of @dailyxtra and @TimHortons and you’ll see what I mean.

Now I have not been to the website in question, but I’m guessing that I’m not going to find any pornographic content there. Which begs this question: Do Tim Horton’s really think that this wouldn’t blow up and make them look like total homophobes? Seriously, it’s 2013 and not 1975. All Tim Horton’s has managed to do is to anger the LGBT community and those who support them, which would be a whole lot of straight people. They buy coffee and I’m guessing that Starbucks and Country Time are about to get a major bump in business until Tim Horton’s remedies this explains how this could possibly happen. And that explanation better be good.

UPDATE: According to the Toronto Star, Tim Horton’s has apologized and is working on resolving the issue. Here’s what their talking head spokesperson had to say:

“It shouldn’t have been blocked, in fact we’re working on unblocking it — it may already be unblocked, it should’ve never been blocked in the first place,” said spokeswoman Michelle Robichaud.
“We certainly appreciate when people bring this kind of stuff to our attention and the statement made by our WiFi vendor was made in error.”

Tim Horton’s Pilot Project Gets Your Electric Vehicle Charged While Sipping On A Double Double

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 14, 2013 by itnerd

The problem that I see with electric vehicles is the fact that these is no infrastructure to recharge them. That’s important because unlike cars, nobody is going to bring you a can of electricity if you run out of battery power. That may be about to change. Tim Horton’s which is Canada’s leading place to get a coffee (such as the aforementioned “double double” which is Canadian speak for double cream and double sugar) is starting a pilot project at a location in Oakville On (just outside of Toronto) where you can charge your electric vehicle for free while enjoying your coffee:

“The electric vehicle infrastructure is in its infancy and we see a potential opportunity for Tim Hortons to help make a true difference by expanding that infrastructure in Canada,” said Paulo Ferreira, Senior Director, International Design and Building Standards, Tim Hortons. “At this stage, the goal for us is to explore and understand the technology, to see how it can work at our restaurants and how we can, in turn, support our guests who choose to go electric.”

Tim Hortons partnered with Oakville Hydro and Town of Oakville to launch the pilot project.

Now this is a good idea as if this pilot is successful, this may help to encourage other companies to do the same thing and that will help the growth of electric vehicles. That’s sure to make Tesla (Model S), Toyota (Prius Plug-in) Mitsubishi (iMev), Nissan (Leaf) and Chevy (Volt) very happy.