The breakfast chain Tim Hortons is defending four class action lawsuits in Canada for allegedly collecting user geolocation data without user consent. According to a regulatory report, the Tim Hortons mobile app secretly collected a vast amount of geolocation data without user consent, violating Canadian law. The app allegedly cataloged every time a user entered or left a Tim Hortons competitor, a major sports venue, or their home or workplace. In addition, the app gathered location data every few minutes, even when it was closed.
The investigation found that Tim Hortons had contracted with a third party to determine consumers’ spending habits and target ads by tracking their location data. Ultimately though, Tim Hortons reports it used the data in an aggregated and de-identified basis to study business trends. Tim Hortons filed a settlement proposal at the end of June, offering to give eligible consumers a complimentary coffee and a bakery good. According to an email sent to class plaintiffs, one complimentary hot beverage has a retail value of $6.19 CAD plus taxes, and the free baked good has a retail value of $2.39 CAD. Additionally, if the courts approve the settlement, Tim Hortons will delete the geolocation data collected between April 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, and direct the third-party provider to do the same.