QR Codes Create a Privacy Problem
But not for the reasons you’ve heard
Your favorite server at your local pizza spot may remember you love anchovies. Now, thanks in part to the QR code you used to open the menu and order, other eateries might know, too.
These tiny black-and-white squares originated in factories in the 1990s and saw a resurgence during the pandemic, as more people took extra steps to keep their hands clean and touchless technologies gained ground at restaurants and retailers. Just open a phone camera, point it at this special type of link and get transported to a website with more information than a paper menu ever offered. Even classically brick-and-mortar businesses like furniture retailers are using QR, or quick response, codes to help shoppers choose what to buy.
But QR codes serve a purpose beyond cutting down on germs. They turn analog interactions — like ordering a pizza — into digital ones, and those digital interactions can be subject to tracking by the restaurant or store. Because QR codes open a browser, companies might use that digital signal to connect the dots between online and offline activity.
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