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Restaurant Apps

Posted by attorney Jovan Johnson

A mobile application, commonly known as an “app," is a great marketing tool for your restaurant because of its ability to gather information from and about your customers. In order to take advantage of this interactive marketing tool, restaurant owners must be aware of federal and state privacy requirements. Restaurants that use apps must describe their information gathering practices through a privacy policy to avoid potential legal pitfalls. What is a privacy policy? A privacy policy summarizes the various practices and policies governing user information collected by an app.When is a privacy policy required? Some restaurant apps are programmed so that information only flows in one direction: from the restaurant to the customer. These apps are not required to provide a privacy policy. California law requires a privacy policy for apps that collect information which can identify, contact or locate an individual. While the Federal Trade Commission doesn't enforce a federal law explicitly requiring a privacy policy, it does investigate restaurants that fail to properly inform customers.What must be included in a privacy policy? California law requires that a privacy policy detail 1) the information gathered, 2) how such information might be shared with other parties, and 3) any user options to review and remove gathered information. On the federal level, the FTC could conclude that a restaurant is being deceptive if the app fails to disclose information that can affect consumer decisions about the app. Consulting with legal counsel about the ins and outs of app privacy will allow restaurants to take advantage of customer information while staying on the right side of the law. The information contained in this article is not a substitute for individualized legal advice. Reading this article does not create an attorney-client privilege. You should consult with an attorney who is familiar with the app industry for help with app issues.

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