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Research reveals the top food apps that know more than your favourite pizza topping

New research by TechRobot has revealed the top 10 food apps gobbling up user data in both the US and UK. 

The study highlights metrics on the types of information these apps are keeping hold of, including; financial information, browsing and search history, items you purchase, your location and so forth. 

These apps know more about us than we’d think with some apps, such as Caffé Nero whose app takes top spot for obtaining access to most user data, including everything from browsing history to audio data. 

TechRobot’s analysis into data-hungry food apps in the UK found that giants such as McDonald’s and Domino’s appear high up on the index, with both apps gaining access to your search history, previous purchases online as well as gaining access to photos and videos. 

However, more surprisingly, three of the top coffee chains in the UK appear in the top 10 apps with the most access to user data. Caffe Nero comes out in top spot, Costa Coffee 7th and Starbucks 10th. 

The UK’s top 10 apps consuming the most consumer data are as follows: 

  1. Caffé Nero (68%)
  2. Paul UK (65%)
  3. Dominos (50%)
  4. Wendy’s (47%)
  5. McDonalds (47%)
  6. Brewdog (42%)
  7. Costa (42%)
  8. Noxy Brothers (38%)
  9. Burger King (38%)
  10. Starbucks (38%)

At the other end of the spectrum, there were food and drink chains the study found that have chosen to not collect any personal data from their respective apps, these included Turtle Bay, Hollywood Bowl Food and Drink and DrinkApp. 

In the US, TechRobot’s study has found that their food delivery apps were the most invasive, with companies such as Caviar, Grubhub, Postmates and Uber Eats all in the top 5 most data-hungry apps in the index. 

Since the pandemic hit, more and more casual dining restaurants in the US are becoming more reliant on apps for orders. The apps allow for contactless ordering and are gradually becoming more permanent for many restaurants due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. 

The USA’s top 10 apps consuming the most consumer data are as follows: 

  1. Caviar (71%)
  2. Grubhub (71%)
  3. Postmates (68%)
  4. Uber Eats (68%)
  5. Subway (56%)
  6. Dunkin’ (52%)
  7. Chick-Fil-A (52%)
  8. Sonic (52%)
  9. Jack in the Box (50%)
  10. Whataburger (50%)

The study reveals the extent of data in which these food app companies are collecting every time we make an order. If you are concerned about how much data these apps are collecting from our phone, TechRobot’s experts have put together some advice on how you can check the data each app holds on you: 

For apps, you have already downloaded on android phones:

  • The setting titles may vary depending on which manufacturer made your phone, but you should be able to find something similar on your device.
  • Open up the Settings app and then tap on the Privacy menu
  • From there, head to Permission Manager and then, for example, you could click on “microphone” to see all the apps that have asked for access to your microphone. 
  • To turn off a permission that an app has, tap on it, and you will be presented with a couple of options such as granting access to an app all the time or only when it’s open. 
  • If the permission is particularly important to the app, you might have to tap a confirmation box.
  • If there’s one particular app you’re concerned about, you can go to Settings and scroll down until you see the menu Apps. From there, you can tap on the app you want to review by clicking on the app and then Permissions
  • You can also just hold your finger on any app and tap the “i” for the same options.

For iPhone users:

  • Once on the Settings page, hit Privacy to view the categories of data allowed to be collected such as location, camera, contacts and so on. 
  • Tap on any menu to see which apps you have granted permission to.
  • If you want a specific app breakdown, scroll down the Settings menu to find individual apps, and then you can click on them to see what they have permission to.

TechRobot’s experts say; “In the event that an app starts behaving strangely or even stops working once you have revoked permission, you may need to reconsider whether to grant back the permission or use it without that particular function.

There are also services available like AppCensus and Exodus Privacy that can help you keep track of what personal data is being collected, who it is being sent to, whether the data is encrypted and if there are any built-in trackers within the app.”


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