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Balmoral Pasture Menu Now Fraught With Data Risk

Mosman is well known for its high prices no more so than at local coffee shops, who are now blaming COVID for a multitude of problems.

Local Balmoral Beach restaurant Pasture of Balmoral has not only lifted the price of a large offer they are also asking customers to QR code an order from their table. The reason given are milk and coffee price increases.

Desperate for a solution to staff problems, Pasture moved to using the Me&U data capture app, the only problem is that Menu is capturing more than one’s food order.

This same app os being used by the Merivale Group to capture information according to the Companies web site.

At Pasture when you tap to order they are collecting name and address, phone number, email address and you have to pay by either entering your credit card details, or using Google Pay or PayPal.

What they are doing is fraught with danger and risk and there is also no need for an app provider to collect so much personal data.

The first problem is the use of QR codes, according to Pasture management, “It’s because we are short staffed”.

When I asked what security was in place to protect my data management claimed they were “not collecting data” they were also unable to confirm where Ne+U was storing the data capture from a QR code now on every table.

When you sit down there is no waiter service there is also no optional menu on the table.

The handy “quick response” barcodes can pull up a menu, a payment system, or any number of websites and widgets on your smartphone.

While they’ve been around since 1994, the pandemic prompted more businesses to adopt QR codes as a result we are seeing a major increase in security problems due to the growth in QR codes and data capture by apps used in cafes such as Pasture.

Meenu is capturing the data, they are building profiles on individuals with staff at the cafes and restaurants clueless as to what is happening with that data.

The convenience of QR Codes comes with security risks.

According to a survey of consumers conducted by MobileIron, 71 percent of respondents could not tell the difference between a malicious QR Code and a legitimate one.

Also, more than 51 percent of respondents did not have mobile security on their devices (or did not know if they did) to provide QR Code security in case of a QR Code-related attack.

My wife is constantly complaining about unsolicited messages on her smartphone or constant calls from numbers, that show up as being local when in reality the call is coming from India, Eastern Europe or the Philippines because they have got hold of data that come from an original data capture at a cafe such as Pasture.

Attackers can take advantage of people’s trust in QR Codes and apps similar to what Pasture is using to fix a staff shortage problem.

Ironically the capture of data and the delivery of menu data to a kitchen is supposed to reduce costs do not increase them.

The “world price of coffee” has surged 21.6 per cent this year to $3.65 a kilogram, according to IBISWorld.

In Australia this relates to around $1.50 a 1 kilo bag of one coffee according to one major importer and supplier to coffee shops.

Some restaurants using these apps have deals with app providers to get access to data, (we are not aware that Pasture has) we are so aware of data captured at one restaurant being sold to another nearby restaurant for digital marketing purposes.

Businesses, such as Me&U have for instance, used QR codes to build a database of customer order histories and contact information.

A QR code also allows business owners to see the timing, location, and frequency of each scan and build profiles on given customers.

Apple, Google and Facebook now facing investigations into their data capture activities and questions now need to be asked of organisations such as Meenu.

Consumers like me have in recent years become aware of how businesses use their personal data; and they’re willing to take their dollars elsewhere if they know they’re being tracked.

A Cisco survey found that 32 percent of consumers have switched companies over their data-sharing agreements.

Businesses such as Me &U are taking advantage of the rise of touchless services during the pandemic to harvest massive amounts of sensitive information about who we are, where we go, and what we do, including our eating and drinking habits — when all we want to do is just eat a meal.

In the past decade, technology companies and the advertising industry have created a vast and extremely lucrative online spying apparatus.

They try to collect information about every click we make online and package it into profiles to be shared, sold, and used in ways we couldn’t even imagine, as seen in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

These surveillance capitalists have long wanted to link online profiling to our physical movements to pry even further into our private lives.

Manipulating us into scanning QR codes instead of ordering from a physical menu is a way for these companies to achieve their dream of online-offline tracking by inserting all the machinery of the online advertising ecosystem between you and your food.

I for one believe it needs to be controlled by the Federal Government.

All I wanted to do today was order and pay for coffee and breakfast.

Since my incident the owner of Pasture has contacted me, and he agrees that more needs to be done to stop unsolicited and above all unnecessary capture of personal data.

He claims that he will contact Me&U to discuss the amount of data that is being captured at his restaurant.



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