Donuts for snooping

Tim Hortons has reached a half-baked settlement under some pretty stale privacy laws.

What happened: The Superior Court of Quebec approved a settlement in a class action suit against Tim Hortons’ parent company, Restaurant Brands International, after the restaurant violated privacy laws by tracking its four million app users without consent. The result: Tim Hortons is trying to make good by offering affected users a free beverage and baked good. 

  • One journalist’s investigation found the app knew where he lived, worked, and went on vacation. Tim’s even knew when he visited rival restaurants.

Why it matters: Offering Canadians a coffee and donut as an apology for tracking their every move might leave a sour taste–especially for privacy commissioners who are pushing the feds to give privacy protections some teeth. Yup, you heard that right: The country’s privacy commissioner can’t do anything about violations in the form of fines and penalties.

  • At the provincial level, only Quebec’s privacy commissioner has the power to impose fines, thanks to a new law that took effect last September.
  • The governments of Ontario and BC have launched reviews into their regulations and are calling on the federal government to take a stand at the national level.

What’s next: A forthcoming law may have some bite. MPs are now mulling over Bill C-27, which includes a new-and-improved Consumer Privacy Protection Act that would give the commissioner the power to impose fines—that could pay for millions of coffees and donuts.