App-Based Ordering: Is our Data at Risk?

Author:
Alexander Welham
Data Protection Solicitor
Date:
01/09/2021

Since pubs and restaurants reopened with table service only as part of Coronavirus restrictions, many of us have ended up with multiple ordering apps and accounts on our phones. But how much have you thought about the personal information you’re typing in when you order your drink or meal?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have warned that customers need to be aware of what personal data they’re sharing when ordering from apps.

Despite table service no longer being compulsory, ordering from apps has remained a popular choice, with the BBC reporting that the apps currently process millions of pounds worth of transactions every day.

Many bars, pubs and restaurants are choosing to keep the apps, as it gives them the opportunity to interact further with customers and track their spending and ordering habits. But at what cost is this for the customer?

“I think it is very easy for people just to see the end product, and because they want that, they really don't question the amount of data that they are being asked for,” Director of Data Protection, Suzanne Gordon, told the BBC.

“Ultimately this is your data, it's your personal information and you need to be confident when you're handing it over and the reasons why.”

What Data are they Collecting?

Some apps will ask for more information than others, but generally you’re required to set up an account to order.

Even those with a ‘guest checkout’ option still ask for a few basic details.

Personal data gathered can include:

      • Full name
      • Email address
      • Phone number
      • Date of birth
      • Home address

You might notice that when you go to submit your new account that you’re given the option of opting out of promotional offers and your data being shared with third parties. But it can be easy to miss when you’re keen to get your order in. It’s possible to ask a company to unsubscribe you from their promotions and marketing emails at a later time, but by then your personal data may already have been used by other interested companies.

How can I Protect my Data?

If you’re worried about giving away your personal data on the ordering apps, you can choose to opt out of promotional offers at any time. Like any organisation handling personal data, pubs, bars and restaurants still have a responsibility for processing and holding personal data in a lawful way and only keeping what’s necessary and relevant.

There are some other steps you can take to keep your personal data safe:

1. Updating your passwords regularly – it’s important to change your passwords often, making sure you use different passwords for different online accounts and choosing strong combinations e.g. numbers, symbols and random words/letters as opposed to something that’s easy to guess.

2. Use two-factor authentication – many purchasing apps and websites use this free security feature to add an extra level of protection to your data. You will usually be prompted on certain websites with the option to turn this feature on and it’s really easy to do. Once it’s activated, you’ll be redirected to your bank provider to verify your account before a transaction is approved.

3. Update your apps and software – mobile apps will regularly make changes to improve their cyber security, so you should update these when prompted or you can turn on automatic updates. You should also make sure your antivirus software is up to date on your devices.

4. Look out for phishing attempts – scammers can be very convincing by email, texts and phone, posing as an organisation such as a bank, delivery service or the NHS. Signs to look out for include typos or an unusual looking web or email address. If you’re ever unsure, don’t click any attachments or give away any personal information. Always double check directly with your bank provider if you’ve received a suspicious email, text or phone call.

For more tips about protecting your data, see our 10 Top Tips for Keeping Your Personal Data Safe.

For free legal advice call our Professional Negligence Solicitors

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