For privacy reasons, you may want to delete the Pub-Order apps on your iPhone or Android
England has now dumped almost all emergency laws intended to stop the spread of Covid-19, including social distancing rules, no limit on the number of people who can meet or attend events, table service in pubs and restaurants will no longer be required, and Face covering is not a legal requirement in enclosed spaces – such as public transport or theaters. Some establishments continue to require face coverings and other rules to encourage customers who might otherwise be put off, but these rules cannot be legally enforced.
With table service no longer required, it may be time to double-check the number of pub apps downloaded on your smartphone. These applications, with which customers can order food and drinks at the table via smartphone, have enjoyed great popularity in recent months. Most of the largest pub chains across the UK have launched their own application to make ordering from your seat easy.
But while the prospect of standing shoulder to shoulder with other customers at the bar might not be all that appealing, keep in mind that some of the most popular apps record a lot more than your drink orders. And that may not be a compromise you want to make.
Speaking to WIRED about the worrying trend in data collection from these applications, Michael Veale, lecturer in digital rights and regulations at University College London, said, “When the hospitality industry started collecting contact information last year, it wasn’t obvious in many hospitality establishments are still using them the technology from the early stages of last year’s pandemic to fill orders and table service that collect unnecessary information. “
Wetherspoons launched its ordering app back in 2017 – long before the coronavirus hit the British coast
Wetherspoons launched its pub app before the pandemic hit the globe. As early as 2017, the Wetherspoons app enabled customers to order drinks, snacks and food at their table. Payment is made through the app using a credit or debit card, or systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay that use fingerprint or facial recognition to verify your identity and approve the payment.
While the ordering app has been around for years, its use has increased in the pandemic. As you might expect, the Wetherspoons app collects information from each of the forms filled out in the app, including your name, home address, email address, and phone number.
In order to determine exactly which Wetherspoon branch you are in, the app accesses the GPS functionality integrated in your smartphone. The Android version of the app appears to have more extensive permissions than the iPhone version of the same app. On Android, the Wetherspoons app can read, change and delete items from your USB storage device. It can also take pictures and videos from your camera.
With its app, Greene King offers a service similar to Wetherspoons, but sucks in a little more data
Like Wetherspoons, Greene King has an application designed to find and book tables in any of its 1,600 locations across the UK. As soon as you are in the pub, you can order drinks and food at your table with the iPhone and Android app.
Using the app causes the software to record your names, contact details, booking information, customer card details, transaction information, date of birth, email addresses, phone number and payment details.
While this all makes sense, the privacy labels on the App Store show that Greene King remembers your search history, identifies the make and model of your smartphone, and the way you interact with the app. That makes a little less sense.
Like the Wetherspoons app, the Google Play Store shows more extensive permissions than the iPhone version of the app. Like its counterpart to Wetherspoons, Greene King can read, change and delete the contents stored on your USB storage device, as well as take photos and videos.
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The OrderPay app is used by around 1,500 pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK. The software available for iPhone and Android collects the usual name, email address, phone number, and details of how you signed in to the app. It also stores payment information, but not individual credit or debit card numbers. It all makes sense.
Perhaps even more worrying is that every time you launch the app, GPS data, as well as allergen and nutritional information, transaction history – including what you bought and how much was spent, IP address – can be used to find your location Find, cell phone provider, phone model, and “cookie, pixel, and beacon identification information” and bluetooth signals nearby.
Konrad Kollnig of Oxford University, who developed the TrackerControl Slim app, which analyzes how Android software tracks and shares data, told WIRED that OrderPay sends some of that data to six different data tracking companies. This is the highest number of all pub apps analyzed. It also shares the location data with the OrderPay headquarters.
According to Köllnig, this step is completely unnecessary. He explains: “A list of all the pubs could be downloaded to the Android device – just like the Wetherspoon app does.”
In its fine print, OrderPay says it will retain personal information for up to six years and “may transfer your personal information outside of the United Kingdom (UK) and European Economic Area (EEA)”.
MyPub is used by a number of different brands, from Slug and Lettuce to WalkAbout
All of this information is captured and used to “better understand our customers and online users, including profiling”. While this could lead to promotions and events more appropriate for the people visiting these places, you are giving away a lot of personal information for a pretty small benefit. When ordering at the bar, you would be a bit surprised if the bartender had to write down your gender, interests, date of birth, name, email address and mobile phone number before handing over the drinks – simply so that the local is better able to understand his customers.
As with a number of the other pub apps on the list, Android users are harder hit by data collection. As listed in the Google Play Store, MyPub can read, change or delete the content stored on the USB storage device connected to your phone. It can also take photos and videos if necessary and track your location using GPS.
“MyPub and Greene King seem to have the best data protection properties of the apps examined,” concludes Kollnig.