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Source: Thailand Startup News  Aug 17, 2019

Questions? Does Apps Like QueQ, A Thai Virtual Queuing App Intrude On One’s Privacy? Are They Safe?

Questions? Does Apps Like QueQ, A Thai Virtual Queuing App Intrude On One’s Privacy? Are They Safe?
Source: Thailand Startup News  Aug 17, 2019
“Are consumers advised or are there warnings that a consumer’s privacy might be compromised or violated when one downloads an app into one’s phone for convenience without little knowing that your movements and behavior details are being monitored and analyzed and stored.”
 

“Local Startups and Apps Firms should be more proactive to assure consumers of their personal  data be it their movements, locations, or personal particulars or actions and also demonstrate this protection they provide thru visible actions or communications strategies to reassure consumers of the safety issues."


 
Many consumers these days are bombarded with numerous apps that is supposed to help one’s lives be more easier, convenient and more in tune with the so called digital age, but how many are aware that many of these apps once loaded in your mobile phones are actually invading every aspect of your life from your movements and locations, to your browsing habits to even your purchases etc.
 
Worst some are technically made in such a way that they can actually penetrate your phone’s operating system and actually gain access to all data on your phone and also track all mobile behavior usages ie what u bought, from where, how much, your like and dislikes on social media, what social media platforms you use, what you view on youtube, etc
 
Most of these apps do not have any warnings on their websites or apps of the risk you face as a consumer once you download their apps into your phone. In countries like Thailand, they are no laws with regards to consumer privacy  unlike Europe.
 
Yes in some cases, consumers can take up their grievances with the Consumer Protection Board or in serious cases, where a breach has resulted in a criminal offence, with the help of a lawyer one can get necessary legal actions initiated with the police and courts engaged.
 
In Thailand unfortunately, despite having a high mobile and internet penetration rate, about 80% of the mobile users can be regarded as ‘not intelligently matured’ despite having local university degrees or high school certificates as they do not understand implications of privacy invasion and happily load whatever free app they can lay their hands on into their mobile phones and use and stare at them the whole day!
 
My curiosity arose after reviewing a media coverage about a Thai Startup called QueQ, a virtual queuing app that recently got a US$ 2.8 million funding and was expanding to Malaysia. The app itself is a godsend and great innovation as it allows customers to make a reservation at a participating outlet and simply walk around and do their shopping or whatever and as their que approaches, they are notified on their phones which is really time saving and convenient as one does simply have to wait outside a restaurant for a long time if it is crowded and not be able to do anything else.
 
 But what raised my eyebrow was when on further reading the media article, my concerns were alerted by a few statements. Below is an extract:
 
“Leveraging on geofencing technology, QueQ transforms local data concerning a person’s movement into great business intelligence. For example, a restaurant can send location-based push notifications about upcoming promotions to its users within the radius. With its new touch interfaces, QueQ also provides audio-visual means for directing customers, and a friendly user interface for operations staff to manage lines and call customers forward.”
 
The article further states that the range of distance for the restaurant to the customer can be as near as 100 meters to tens of kilometres away for tracking purposes!
 
Having experience in the IT and Development aspects, my mind starting analyzing what type of tech they were utilizing and also the amount of personal data that they could be keeping. To make matters worst, their website and app made no mention or warning of this to potential users except that its easy to download and use!
 
The app is now in Malaysia according to the article with apparently more than 100,000 users! I always though that after years of colonial rule and a system of education that was supposedly more better than Thailand, consumers there would be more discerning but was wrong I guess.
 
Yes by downloading these apps, we are indirectly given these app companies access to our data but we were never forewarned!
 
Consumers these days have to be more careful before loading any app into your mobile phone, do your own due diligence. Startups and app companies should be more ethical to place warnings on their websites, warning consumers about potential privacy intrusions and even be more responsible to assure consumers what fields of data are tracked and collated and to issue legal commitments that these data will not be sold to third parties or used for anything else.
 
Meanwhile the local Asian government should as be more prudent and also develop laws like that in Europe that protects individuals and even corporations in terms of privacy issues and also personal and corporate data. After the facebook saga, it was assumed that everyone was more diligent now but it does not seem like the case here in Asia.