Connect with us

Technology

Google’s Marketing of Children’s Apps Misleads Parents, Consumer Groups Say

Editor

Published

on

[ad_1]

A group of 22 children’s and consumer organizations is calling for a federal investigation into Google’s marketing of children’s apps in its Google Play store, just the latest in a series of rebukes by experts about how the company handles technology aimed at youngsters.

Google has promoted the “Family” section of its Play store as a place where parents can find age-appropriate apps for children. But in a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission filed on Wednesday, the advocacy groups said the company’s endorsement of the apps was misleading. The groups said that some apps in that section contained content unsuitable for children, showed ads for casino games for adults or pushed youngsters into watching video ads and making in-app purchases.

The groups also said some apps appeared to violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law that prohibits sites and apps for children from collecting phone numbers, precise location, photographs, persistent tracking identifiers and other personal information from children under 13 without verifiable consent from a parent. The complaint cited an investigation by The New York Times in September that found some children’s apps collected precise location information and tracking identifiers without verifiable parental permission.

Google has come under mounting scrutiny for its promotion of children’s apps in its Play store. In April, cybersecurity researchers reported that more than half of about 6,000 free Android children’s apps they tested shared personal data in ways that may violate the children’s privacy law. In September, the attorney general of New Mexico filed a lawsuit against Google and other companies over children’s apps. The complaint said that Google had violated a state law on unfair practices by marketing certain children’s apps as family-friendly even when the company knew the apps failed to comply with its own policies on children’s apps.

Image
In an app called New Girl in High School for children ages 6-12, researchers found an ad for a game involving beer, the complaint said.CreditBrent Lewis for The New York Times
Image
Beer in the ads for New Girl at School.CreditBrent Lewis for The New York Times

In early October, two Democratic senators called for a federal investigation to examine how app stores like Google Play vet the apps they categorize as child-friendly and ensure they comply with the privacy law. And on Wednesday morning those senators — Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ed Markey of Massachusetts — along with Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, sent another letter to the chairman of the F.T.C. pressing for “a comprehensive investigation into the Google Play store and its compliance” with children’s privacy and advertising rules.

“There are massive, at-scale problems with Android apps for children,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a children’s advocacy group in Boston that led the latest complaint along with the Center for Digital Democracy, a nonprofit in Washington. “Google is failing to do the proper vetting of apps in the family section,” he said.

Google said that it removed thousands of apps from its Designed for Families program this year when it found policy violations, and had begun to take action on the apps cited in the consumer groups’ complaint.

“Parents want their children to be safe online, and we work hard to protect them,” said Aaron Stein, a Google spokesman. “Apps in our Designed for Families program have to comply with strict policies on content, privacy and advertising, and we take action on any policy violations that we find.”

A few years ago, Google introduced Designed for Families, a program that enables developers of Android apps to “showcase trusted, high-quality and age-appropriate content for the whole family.” To be eligible for the program, Google says developers must meet criteria like ensuring that their apps comply with the federal privacy law and contain age-appropriate content and ads for children.

But the groups’ complaint and the New Mexico attorney general’s lawsuit argue that Google misled consumers by promoting the apps as trustworthy while failing to enforce its own requirements for the Designed for Families program.

Image
In their testing, the consumer groups found ads for casino games in a children’s app called Dentist Games for Kids, labeled as for children age 8 and under.CreditBrent Lewis for The New York Times

Among other criticisms, the complaint says that Dentist Games for Kids, an app for children 8 and under in the Play store, showed ads for adult casino games with names like Blackjack 21: Blackjackist and Double Wins Slots — Free Vegas Casino. It also says some apps include risky or inappropriate content, citing Ear Doctor Clinic Kids Games, an app that “tells children to use scissors to cut the hair around and inside an infected ear,” the complaint said. (On Wednesday morning, the app was not available in the Play store.)

The Times had similar findings when testing several children’s apps in the Play store this week. One app, Smart Games for Kids for Free, a free animated game for children 8 and under that has been downloaded more than a million times, asked for access to a player’s smartphone photos, media, files and location without seeking parental permission.

Image
The complaint says an app called Ear Doctor Clinic Kids Games included inappropriate content that “tells children to use scissors to cut the hair around and inside an infected ear.”CreditBrent Lewis for The New York Times

The app also showed ads for casino games, “cheap international calling” and the Spotify streaming music service, which does not allow children under 13 to have accounts. It also nearly continuously displayed an ad for in-app purchases.

Devgame Kids, a developer in Estonia that is behind the children’s app, did not immediately return an email seeking comment

Mr. Stein, the Google spokesman, said: “We take these issues very seriously and continue to work hard to remove any content that is inappropriately aimed at children from our platform.”

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Technology

The 3 Best Canadian Tech Stocks I Would Buy With $3,000 for 2021

Editor

Published

on

By

The majority of the Canadian tech stocks went through the roof in 2020 and delivered outsized returns. However, tech stocks witnessed sharp selling in the past 10 days, reflecting valuation concerns and expected normalization in demand. 

As these high-growth tech stocks shed some of their gains, I believe it’s time to accumulate them at current price levels to outperform the broader markets by a significant margin in 2021. Let’s dive into three tech stocks that have witnessed a pullback and are looking attractive bets. 

Lightspeed POS

Lightspeed POS (TSX:LSPD)(NYSE:LSPD) stock witnessed strong selling and is down about 33% in the last 10 days. I believe the selloff in Lightspeed presents an excellent opportunity for investors to invest in a high-growth and fundamentally strong company. 

Lightspeed witnessed an acceleration in demand for its digital products and services amid the pandemic. However, with the easing of lockdown measures and economic reopening, the demand for its products and services could normalize. Further, it faces tough year-over-year comparisons. 

Despite the normalization in demand, I believe the ongoing shift toward the omnichannel payment platform could continue to drive Lightspeed’s revenues and customer base. Besides, its accretive acquisitions, growing scale, and geographic expansion are likely to accelerate its growth and support the uptrend in its stock. Lightspeed stock is also expected to benefit from its growing average revenue per user, innovation, and up-selling initiatives.     

Shopify 

Like Lightspeed, Shopify (TSX:SHOP)(NYSE:SHOP) stock has also witnessed increased selling and has corrected by about 22% in the past 10 days. Notably, during the most recent quarter, Shopify said that it expects the vaccination and reopening of the economy to drive some of the consumer spending back to offline retail and services. Further, Shopify expects the pace of shift toward the e-commerce platform to return to the normal levels in 2021, which accelerated in 2020.

Despite the normalization in the pace of growth, a strong secular shift towards online commerce could continue to bring ample growth opportunities for Shopify, and the recent correction in its stock can be seen as a good buying opportunity. 

Shopify’s initiatives to ramp up its fulfillment network, international expansion and growing adoption of its payment platform are likely to drive strong growth in revenues and GMVs. Moreover, its strong new sales and marketing channels bode well for future growth. I remain upbeat on Shopify’s growth prospects and expect the company to continue to multiply investors’ wealth with each passing year. 

Docebo 

Docebo (TSX:DCBO)(NASDAQ:DCBO) stock is down about 21% in the last 10 days despite sustained momentum in its base business. The enterprise learning platform provider’s key performance metrics remain strong, implying that investors should capitalize on its low stock price and start accumulating its stock at the current levels. 

Docebo’s annual recurring revenue or ARR (a measure of future revenues) continues to grow at a brisk pace. Its ARR is expected to mark 55-57% growth in Q4. Meanwhile, its top line could increase by 48-52% during the same period. The company’s average contract value is growing at a healthy rate and is likely to increase by 22-24% during Q4. 

With the continued expansion of its customer base, geographical expansion, innovation, and opportunistic acquisitions, Docebo could deliver strong returns in 2021 and beyond.

Continue Reading

Technology

Manitoba to invest $6.5 million in new systems

Editor

Published

on

By

WINNIPEG – The province of Manitoba is investing $6.5 million over three years to replace technical systems used in healthcare facilities, including replacing current voice dictation and transcription services with more modern systems and upgrading the Provincial Health Contact Centre (PHCC)’s triage, call-recording and telephone systems, Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson (pictured) announced.

“Our government is investing in the proper maintenance of information and communications technology to ensure digital health information can be safely stored and shared as needed,” said Stefanson. “These systems will ensure healthcare facilities can continue to provide high-quality services and allow Manitobans to get faster access to healthcare resources and information.”

Dictation, transcription and voice-recognition services are used by healthcare providers to write reports. There are currently approximately 80 healthcare sites across Manitoba using some combination of dictation, transcription and voice-recognition services. Many of these systems are nearing the end of their usable lifespans.

“Across our health system, radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians use voice-dictation services to help create diagnostic reports when reading imaging studies like ultrasound, nuclear medicine studies, X-rays, angiography, MRI and CT scans,” said Dr. Marco Essig, provincial specialty lead, diagnostic imaging, Shared Health. “Enhanced dictation and voice-recognition services will enable us to work more efficiently and provide healthcare providers with quicker access to these reports that support the diagnoses and treatment of Manitobans every day.”

The project will replace telephone-based dictation and transcription with voice-recognition functions, upgrade voice-recognition services for diagnostic imaging and enhance voice-recognition tools for mobile devices.

“Investing in more modern voice-transcription services will help our health-care workers do the administrative part of their jobs more quickly and effectively so they can get back to the most important part of their work – providing top-level healthcare and protecting Manitobans,” said Stefanson. “The transition to the new system will be made seamlessly so that services disruptions, which can lead to patient care safety risks, will not occur.”

The new systems will be compatible with other existing systems, will decrease turnaround times to improve patient care and will be standardized across the province to reduce ongoing costs and allow regional facilities to share resources as needed, Stefanson added.

The PHCC is a one-stop shop for incoming and outgoing citizen contact and supports programs such as Health Links–Info Santé, TeleCARE TeleSOINS and After-Hours Physician Access, as well as after-hours support services to public health, medical officers of health, home care and Manitoba Families.

The current vendor that supplies communications support to the PHCC is no longer providing service, making it an opportune time to invest in an upgraded system that will provide better service to Manitobans, the minister said, adding the project will provide the required systems and network infrastructure to continue providing essential services now and for the near future.

“The PHCC makes more than 650,000 customer service calls to Manitobans per year to a broad spectrum of clients with varied health issues. This reduces the need for people to visit a physician, urgent care or emergency departments,” said Stefanson. “The upgrade will also allow Manitobans in many communities to continue accessing the support they need from their home or local health centre, reducing the need for unnecessary travel.”

Continue Reading

Technology

Telus and UHN deliver services to the marginalized

Editor

Published

on

By

Telus’s Health for Good program has launched the latest of its specially equipped vans to provide medical services to the homeless and underserved, this time to the population of Toronto’s west end. The project relies not only on the hardware and software – the vans and technology – but on the care delivered by trained and socially sensitive medical professionals.

For the Toronto project, those professionals are working at the University Health Network’s Social Medicine program and the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. The city’s Parkdale community, in the west end, has a high concentration of homeless and marginalized people.

First launched in 2014, Telus’s Health for Good program has delivered mobile clinics to 13 Canadian cities, from Victoria to Halifax. Originally designed to deliver primary care, the program pivoted to meet the needs of patients in the COVID-19 pandemic, said Nimtaz Kanji, Calgary-based director of Telus Social Purpose Programs.

Angela Robertson of the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (CHC) asserted that marginalized people are particularly susceptible to the spread of COVID-19, as they don’t have access to the basic precautions that prevent its spread.

The clinic is located near a Pizza Pizza franchise; homeless people shelter under its overhang on the weekends, she said. Some have encampments under nearby bridges.

“The public health guidelines and requirements call for things that individuals who are homeless don’t have,” Robertson said. “If the response calls for isolation, that suggests people have places to isolate in.”

And in the shelter system, pre-COVID, the environment was very congregate, with many people in the same physical space, said Robertson. Some homeless persons, in order to keep themselves safe, have created encampments, and the city has opened up some hotel rooms across the city to create spaces for physical distancing.

Even proper hand-washing and hygiene becomes a challenge for the homeless.

“COVID calls for individuals to practice constant hand-washing. Oftentimes, individuals who are homeless use public washroom facilities that may be in restaurants or coffee shops, and many of those spaces are now closed. So there are limitations to accessing those facilities. It’s not like they’re in a community where there are public hand-washing facilities for people who are homeless.”

The mobile health clinic allows the CHC to take “pop-up testing” into communities where there is high positivity and where additional COVID testing is needed. The CHC can take testing into congregate sites and congregate housing to provide more testing, Robertson said.

“The other piece that we will use the van to do is, when the vaccine supply gets back online, and when the health system gets to doing community vaccinations … we hope that we can be part of that effort.”

COVID has contributed to a spike in cases of Toronto’s other pandemic: opioid overdoses. Some community members are reluctant to seek care because of the stigma attached to substance abuse; and COVID has a one-two punch for users.

The first rule of substance abuse is, don’t use alone; always be with someone who can respond to a potential overdose, ideally someone who can administer Nalaxone to reverse the effects of the overdose, Robertson said. “It’s substance abuse 101,” and the need for social distancing makes this impossible.

Secondly, COVID has affected the supply chain of street drugs. As a result, they’re being mixed increasingly with “toxic” impurities like Fentanyl that can be deadly.

The van itself is a Mercedes Sprinter, modified by architectural firm éKM architecture et aménagement and builder Zone Technologie, both based in Montréal. According to Car and Driver magazine, the Sprinter line – with 21 cargo models and 10 passenger versions – is “considered by many to be the king of cargo and passenger vans.”

Kanji said the platform was chosen for its reputation for reliability and robustness.

While the configuration is customized for each mobile clinic, it generally consists of two sections: A practitioner’s workstation and a more spacious and private examination room, so patients can receive treatment with privacy and dignity, Kanji said. The Parkdale clinic is 92 square feet.

“While the layouts vary across regions, they typically include an examination table and health practitioners’ workstation, including equipment necessary to provide primary healthcare,” the Telus vice-president of provider solutions wrote in an e-mail interview. The Parkdale Queen West mobile clinic is designed for primary medical services, including wound care, mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, harm reduction services, mental healthcare and counseling.

The clinic equipped with an electronic medical record (EMR) from TELUS Health and TELUS LTE Wi-Fi network technology.

Practitioners will be able to collect and store patient data, examine a patient’s results over time, and provide better continuity of care to those marginalized citizens who often would have had undocumented medical histories.

The EMR system is Telus Health’s PS Suite (formerly Practice Solutions). It is an easy-to-use, customizable solution for general and specialty practices that captures, organizes, and displays patient information in a user-friendly way. The solution allows for the electronic management of patient charts and scheduling, receipt of labs and hospital reports directly into the EMR, and personalization of workflows with customizable templates, toolbars, and encounter assistants.

But like others tested for COVID, it’s a 24-48 hour wait for results. Pop-up or not, how does the mobile team get results to patients who have no fixed address?

The CHC set up a centre for testing in a tent at the Waterfront Community Centre. Swabs are sent to the lab. “We are responsible for connecting back with community members and their results,” Robertson said.

“This is the value of having Parkdale Queen West being in front of the testing, because many of the community members who are homeless we know through our other services, and there is some trust in folks either coming to us to make arrangements to collect their results, or we know where they are.”

This is a key element of the program, said Kanji – leveraging community trust. In Vancouver downtown east side, for example, where there is a high concentration of marginalized members of the indigenous community, nurse practitioners are accompanied by native elders in a partnership with the Kilala Lelum Health Centre.

Continue Reading

Chat

Trending