Canadian coffee giant Tim Hortons is proposing offering impacted customers a free hot drink and baked good as settlement in class action lawsuits filed after the company spied on app users for over a year.
The news provides a conclusion to one of the more bizarre location data gathering scandals in recent years.
“We’re pleased to have reached a proposed settlement, subject to Court approval, in the four class action lawsuits in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario involving the Tim Hortons app. As part of the proposed settlement agreement, eligible app users will receive a free hot beverage and a free baked good,” Tim Hortons told Motherboard in an email. “All parties agree this is a fair settlement and we look forward to the Superior Court of Quebec’s decision on the proposal. We are confident that pending the Quebec court’s approval of the settlement, the courts in British Columbia and Ontario will recognize the settlement.
An email sent to affected users “You are receiving this email in connection with a proposed settlement, subject to Court approval, of a national class action lawsuit involving the Tim Hortons app and the collection of geolocation data between April 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020.”
“As part of the proposed settlement agreement, eligible app users will receive a free hot beverage and a free baked good. Distribution details will be provided following approval, in the event that the court approves the settlement,” the email continues.
The email specifies that the one free 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, largely leaving the Tim Hortons menu wide open for any impacted customers to choose from and load up on all the extras.
As the email alludes to, in the Tim Hortons app tracked every time a user entered or left a Tim Hortons competitor, a major sports venue, or their home or workplace. In June, Canadian regulators said that Tim Hortons’ data collection violated Canadian law.
“Tim Hortons clearly crossed the line by amassing a huge amount of highly sensitive information about its customers. Following people’s movements every few minutes of every day was clearly an inappropriate form of surveillance. This case once again highlights the harms that can result from poorly designed technologies as well as the need for strong privacy laws to protect the rights of Canadians,” Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, said in a statement published with the announcement at the time.
Tim Hortons’ statement added that “It’s important to emphasize that the allegations raised in the class actions were not proven in court and the settlement is not an admission of any wrongdoing.”