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Apple’s CES ad in Las Vegas is misleading

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Apple CES 2019 ad GoogleApple’s misleading ad on display in Las Vegas during this year’s CES convention.Getty

  • Apple has a big — and misleading — ad on display in Las Vegas during this year’s CES convention.
  • The ad states, “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.”
  • The ad is literally untrue; much of what users do on their iPhones and the data they generate doesn’t stay on their devices.
  • IPhones leak data to wireless carriers, websites, app developers — and to Apple’s own servers and services.
  • Apple benefits directly and indirectly from the information that can be gleaned off of users’ iPhones.

Give me a break, Apple.

That’s a cute ad you have in Las Vegas for the CES tech convention. “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone” is both a good dig at your rivals and a clever restating of Sin City’s popular catch phrase.

But it’s literally a lie. What’s happens on customers’ iPhones doesn’t stay on them — and you know it.

All kinds of data leaks off of iPhones, much of it with user permission to the numerous software developers who offer the apps that make your devices so useful. But plenty of it also goes to your own servers and services. That’s something you both encourage and make money off of — in some cases in ways that aren’t all that different from the companies your ad is implicitly deriding.

Read this: Apple trolled Google with a massive billboard at the world’s biggest tech show, which it’s not even attending

Paul Manafort knows what’s on iPhones doesn’t stay there

To cite one prominent example of how data on iPhones doesn’t actually stay on them, take the case of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager who was recently convicted of multiple federal crimes. Part of what got him in trouble were some WhatsApp messages he sent from his iPhone.

Paul ManafortSome of the evidence federal prosecutors used to convict Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, was gleaned from an iCloud backup of his iPhone’s WhatsApp app.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesThat may seem strange at first. WhatsApp is renowned for offering a secure messaging service with end-to-end encryption, which blocks anyone but the sending and receiving parties from reading messages. iPhones are also renowned for their own security — and everything stays on an iPhone, right?

Wrong. Manafort backed up his WhatsApp messages to your iCloud service, a common practice. What he apparently didn’t realize is those backups aren’t secure, that you have the keys to them and can access them when federal prosecutors ask you to.

Other companies do the same thing, of course. Businesses are legally obliged to hand over customer information when they receive a subpoena from law enforcement (unless they choose to legally challenge the subpoena, as Apple and others do from time to time). 

Manafort’s case may also be the one of the more extreme, and justified, examples of how the things people do on their iPhones don’t actually stay on them. But it’s certainly not an isolated one.

iPhones regularly leak all kinds of information

Even at a very basic level, iPhones leak information. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the nature of phones and networked computers. When users make a call or access the internet, they are providing information via the cell towers or wireless routers they are connecting through to carriers or website operators about where they are and, in many cases, who they are connecting with. That kind of metadata absolutely doesn’t stay on users’ iPhones.

iPhone X Face IDApple has touted the security of the Face ID facial recognition system it’s built into its latest iPhones.Hollis JohnsonBut you as a company also get all kinds of data off iPhones. Your Maps app and its real-time traffic conditions service relies on data you glean from iPhone users. Many iPhones are customized to automatically send you diagnostic and other data, so you can identify bugs in your operating system. When iPhone users asks questions of Siri, their devices submit those queries to your servers, and you use that information to get a better idea of the kind of information users are looking for.

You’ve made a big deal about how the iPhone has built-in encryption and advanced authentication technology, such as your Face ID facial recognition system, to protect the data stored on users’ devices. And for the most part, the iPhone’s built in security technology is pretty robust.

But as the Manafort case illustrates, the locks you’ve put on people’s devices are irrelevant when you’ve left open a huge back door in the form of your iCloud service.

iCloud is a big back door to users’ iPhones

It used to be that most customers backed up their phones to their home computers via your iTunes software, assuming they backed them up at all. Now, the default is to back up to iCloud — something you’ve been pushing customers to do. It’s true that the iCloud backup service is a lot easier and user friendly than iTunes. But you make money off it; you charge customers who want more than the pittance of storage you offer.

Jennifer lawrenceMalicious actors were able to gain access to risque photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities by hacking into their iCloud accounts.Paramount VantageAll that data — including sensitive things like chat and email messages — is copied to your computers through iCloud. While your policy may be to not access user data, it’s factually incorrect to claim that the data “stays” on a customer’s iPhone.

It’s a particularly dangerous illusion to perpetuate for people who may not be technically savvy enough to know any better and who are foolish enough to take you at your word. 

Just look at what happened to Jennifer Lawrence. 

Like many people, Lawrence used your iClould Photos service, which stores on your servers the pictures users take on their iPhones. The service is great; I use it to backup all my digital photos and to access them on my numerous Apple devices.

The downside of iCloud Photos, though, is that photos are no longer just on users’ devices, and they too can leak out. That’s something that Lawrence and several other celebrities found out to their dismay several years ago when malicious actors were able to figure out their iCloud passwords, gain access to their photo libraries, and post on the public web some of the risque pictures they found there.

Apple benefits from Google searches and Facebook’s app

In recent years, as your iPhone sales have started to stagnate and even fall, you’ve been touting your services business. According to analysts, one of the biggest and most profitable money makers in that business is your deal with Google. That deal ensures that Google is the default search engine in the iPhone’s Safari web browser, a position which ends up sending likely billions of search requests to the company every year.

Apple CEO Tim CookApple CEO Tim Cook has made a big point lately of touting his company’s privacy bona fides.Visual China GroupThat’s a significant data leak in and of itself; Google uses those searches to glean lots of information about iPhone users and to precisely target them with ads. That’s the core of Google’s business — a business you implicitly are deriding in your ad — and you help enable it for a huge chunk of change. How exactly are you better than Google, again?

Besides Google, the other big target of your pro-privacy campaign has been Facebook. But users must have a device of some kind to access Facebook. Most of them these days get to the service using their phones, and in the United States and many other countries, a large portion of those mobile users are getting to Facebook via their iPhones. Another way of saying that is that what users do on Facebook on their iPhone isn’t staying on their iPhones.

Sure, you’re not collecting the data. But you benefit from Facebook’s app being available for the iPhone and, indirectly, from the data it collects. After all, Facebook’s app has long been one of the most popular apps in the iPhone App Store. It’s quite possible that if it weren’t available for the iPhone at all or only offered a fraction of the features as the Android version — features, after all, that are often enabled or powered by the data Facebook collects — a significant portion of your user base would buy an Android phone instead.

But it’s not just Facebook’s app that leaks data off of users’ iPhones. A huge portion of apps in your store do that. And you know that, because you designed iOS, the operating system underlying the iPhone, to do just that. You built in hooks that allow developers to access and use all kinds of information off users’ phones, including their location, their photos, their contacts in their address books, even their health and fitness information.

Yes, there are good reasons to allow that access. And you do offer some relatively good settings in iOS to give users some measure of control over who has access to that information and how it’s used. But it’s absolutely false to suggest to users that such information stays on their device.

iPhone apps are finely tracking users’ locations

What’s more, even with the tools you offer, users still sometimes have little control or even knowledge of how data collected from their iPhones is being used. In a report last month, the New York Times found dozens of companies that collect consumers’ location data via their mobile phones, including iPhones. Although the data was collected anonymously, the companies’ databases often contained enough information about the comings and goings of particular phones to identify individuals and their patterns of behavior.

What’s more, the report found that at least some affected consumers were unaware that their location information was being used for purposes other than the explicit features of the apps that gleaned it. Some were also unaware that, in many cases, their location information — such as what stores they visited — was being sold or passed along to other companies, including hedge funds.

Look, Apple, I appreciate your commitment to privacy. As a consumer, one of the things I like about being a customer of yours is that your business isn’t dependent on tracking my every move so that you can sell ads. I understand and appreciate that you make efforts to anonymize the data I and other users send to you. I also like the fact that in many cases you have given me choices about what data I share and with whom.

But iPhones aren’t closed boxes. Much that happens on them — sometimes all of it — definitely doesn’t stay on them. And to suggest that it does is dishonest and a disservice to your customers.

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

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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.

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Manitoba to invest $6.5 million in new systems

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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.”

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Telus and UHN deliver services to the marginalized

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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.

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