OpenTable Restaurant Data Becomes New Battleground in Race Against Competitors

OpenTable is moving to make it more difficult for restaurants to share data with competitors, according to a new report.

In new rules OpenTable is implementing on Friday, the company is making it more difficult for third-party companies to use data restaurants obtain through its service. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the move after obtaining a copy of the client agreement. Some restaurateurs told the Journal that the policy appears to be an attempt to thwart rivals, like SevenRooms and others, that are trying to target OpenTable’s customers.

OpenTable is a restaurant reservation service that allows patrons to book tables from the Web. Restaurants pay OpenTable $1.50 for every seated diner who reserves a table through its service. OpenTable also operates a guest-services platform to help restaurants run more smoothly.

In an interview with the Journal, OpenTable CEO Steve Hafner denied claims that his company’s new policy takes aim at competitors. Instead, he said that it’s an attempt by OpenTable to safeguard user data and enhance privacy. The data includes guest information that could have been shared with third-parties under the previous regulations, according to the Journal.

“Diners and restaurants entrust us with their data, and we’re obligated to protect their privacy to the fullest extent possible,” an OpenTable spokesperson told Fortune in an e-mailed statement. “We simply can’t allow third parties to systematically harvest information from our systems without adequate consent or safeguards.”

The move has angered some restaurant owners who use SevenRooms with OpenTable to manage guests. In those scenarios, OpenTable handles guest reservations and SevenRooms, which charges restaurants $500 per month for its offering, takes the guest information from OpenTable and assists restaurants with table management. Under the new policy, some restaurateurs had featured, that practice would be banned.

In a statement to Fortune, SevenRooms CEO Joel Montaniel said that his company works with all of its restaurant “technology and marketing partners, including OpenTable, to help restaurants run their businesses and provide outstanding customer service.”

An OpenTable spokesperson said that OpenTable and SevenRooms came to an agreement on Thursday night that will allow restaurants to continue to use data and share it between their services for another 30 days.

Update at 1:30 p.m. ET on March 15 to include statements and additional information from OpenTable and SevenRooms. And at 4:30 p.m. ET to clarify that the agreement between the companies will last for 30 days.

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