QR code menus made no-contact ordering at restaurants possible. But there’s a privacy catch.

If you’ve dined at a restaurant in the past year and a half, chances are you’ve been asked to pull up the menu by scanning a QR code through your smartphone camera. You may have even placed your order digitally from the comfort of your seat. The use of QR codes dramatically increased during the pandemic, especially in dining, where businesses did away with physical menus, pared down staff, and limited contact with customers. But some privacy advocates are worried that the technology also makes eaters more vulnerable to surveillance, reports The New York Times. One QR code startup, for example, is developing a tool that restaurants can use to personalize menu recommendations, based on a customer’s ordering history. Think of it as a Google-ification of the physical world, as one tech expert described it.