Cary, NC – With the ubiquitous mobile devices we now carry comes a very popular way of getting content – the QR code; short for Quick Response. We are seeing QR codes everywhere, but is it safe to image just any QR code you come across? The answer is NO.
As with any new Technology, there are people who will use it for ill-gotten means. QR codes can take you to sites that are infected, sites that want to steal your identity and other places you don’t generally want to be. Some QR codes have even been reported to send a text message to services that charge you for the text!
As a municipality, you need your information to be authoritative, so having ‘stray’ QR codes is not a good practice.
Now look to the QR code to the left. This is the same QR as above, but in addition to the QR, there is information on where you should expect the QR code will take you. This is a best practice for municipalities, merchants and all other organizations. Make sure that people looking at your literature or posters know where the QR code will take them.
Also, use a QR reader application that shows you the URL – the destination where the QR code wants to take you. If the destination is an SMS (text message), a site that wants your personal information or a site that does not make sense for the advertisement, don’t go there!
What about URL’s shortened with services like “bit.ly”, “goo.gl” or “tinyurl.com” which are some of the most popular URL shortening services? QR codes can encode up to 4,296 alphanumeric characters (numbers, letters, etc.) so there is no reason to show a shortened URL even for the longest web site names.
As a consumer, be informed and be safe while imaging these very useful shortcuts. As a Municipality, make sure you use the best practices identified above to keep your citizens safe.
Story by Managing Partner Ian Henshaw. A version of this article was published on his Personal Blog