Dining On Data: Which Table Service Apps Store The Most Data On Users?

A new Uswitch study has revealed the table service or dining apps that store the most data on their users.

With the privacy body, ICO, suggesting pub venues are asking users for more personal data than ‘is relevant and necessary, the Uswitch study examined the privacy policies of the 10 most downloaded food and drink ordering apps to discover the data they collect.

Uswitch found that pub giant Mitchell & Butlers collects the most data on customers, asking for 22/24 possibly relevant data points.

Mitchell & Butlers, whose brands include Miller & Carter, Harvester, All Bar One and Toby Carvery, asked users for 115% more information than the average dining app analysed in the study. These data points included device info, social media profiles and insights, location and even marital status.

Mitchell & Butlers have a total of nine food service apps under their name including O’Neills, Sizzling Pubs, Vintage Inns and Stonehouse Restaurants.

Greene King asked for the second-highest amount of data requirements from users, with 17/24 (71%) points of data found in their privacy policy. Greene King states on its website that it’s the leading pub retailer in the UK, with over 3,000 pubs in action. 

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Towards the bottom of the list were dining apps that were used by independent and smaller-chain restaurants and bars across the UK.

OrderPay, which is used by bars including Be At One, Bierkeller, Bar Soho and Giggling Squid, was the dining app requiring the least amount of user data, with just 2/24 (8%) points – dietary information and order history. 

Payment information for several apps including OrderPay and Butlr was passed onto payment provider services and was not stored within the app.

Catherine Hiley, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com shares advice for mobile phone users looking to safeguard their personal information:

“In the post-covid world we live in, many bars, pubs and restaurants have kept up their table service apps for customers convenience.

“And while certain elements of data will be needed for these apps to work such as location and age verification for alcohol, some apps tend to push the boundaries on the amount of data they require from customers.

“It’s important for users to be aware of the reasons why a company may ask for this data and consider what this information might be used for if collected.

While we can’t be sure of the true intentions of every app, there are some steps users can take to better protect their data,” Catherine remarks.

Do your research before downloading and installing an app

“Before you install any app, check the reviews to find out what other users have said about it. If you’re not sure, don’t download and install.” 

Be wary before agreeing to permissions

“If an app asks for permissions that it really shouldn’t need to function, then you should question the reason for it asking to collect that data. For example, why should Greene King or Butlr need to know your social media profile and preferences?” says Catherine.

Keep your apps up to date and delete any that you don’t use

“It’s likely that your phone has far too many apps. Deleting the ones you don’t use will help your battery life and protect you from any potential privacy problems. 

“It might be tempting to avoid updating your apps, but it’s key to ensuring that your data and personal information is secure.”

Keep on top of your mobile app permissions

Catherine says, “Did you know that many apps can still function without all of the permissions they might ask you to agree to? Why not experiment with different combinations of permissions to see if you can safeguard your personal information.”