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Calls grow to release more federal inmates because of COVID-19 threat – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press


Published Saturday, April 18, 2020 2:46PM EDT


Last Updated Saturday, April 18, 2020 7:26PM EDT

More groups urged prisons to step up COVID-19 testing and sanitary measures to help prevent mass outbreaks among incarcerated populations, as well as to release some offenders immediately as case loads grew at several institutions.

Once COVID-19 enters a prison, “it spreads rapidly and then it can have really dire consequences,” said Emilie Coyle, executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

Since April 7, the number of confirmed cases at Joliette Institution for Women in Joliette, Que., grew from 10 to 50, the association said in a statement released Saturday.

That means about 60 per cent of prisoners at the facility, about 75 kilometres north east of Montreal, are infected, the group said, as only 80 people are incarcerated there currently. The group, which advocates for federally incarcerated women, notes the number of cases could be higher due to test result delays.

Prisons are a place that can’t contain the pandemic, said Coyle, as prisoners can’t physically distance themselves from others, they receive poor health care and the facilities are not clean.

Other women’s prisons are seeing cases too.

The Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont., has nine confirmed cases now, the group said, while the Fraser Valley Institution for Women in Abbostford, B.C., reported its first confirmed case Friday. Coyle said the Fraser Valley case is a staff member, not an inmate.

The outbreak isn’t limited to women’s facilities.

As of Friday, 170 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 at federal correctional institutions, according to Correctional Service Canada, out of 510 people tested. One person died and 14 have recovered.

The largest outbreak appears to be at B.C.’s Mission Medium Institution where the CSC website notes 60 positive tests. On Saturday, the province’s health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said up to 70 people, including 60 inmates, were impacted.

There are 66 correctional officers with COVID-19, according to a statement from the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers issued Saturday.

That includes 15 at Port-Cartier Institution, 34 at Joliette, four at Federal Training Center and two at Drummond Institution all in Quebec, as well as two at Ontario’s Grand Valley Institution and nine at Mission Institution in B.C.

CAEFS is concerned Joliette is an example of what will happen at other institutions without immediate action.

Before the pandemic, the CAEFS offices received roughly 10 phone calls a week from inmates seeking support, said Coyle. Now, they receive dozens daily.

At Joliette, what were once called segregation units are being used to isolate ill prisoners, the group said it has been told – a measure the group calls cruel, punishing, lacking humanity and ineffective at containing the spread.

Prisoners have also told the association that in most cases only symptomatic people are tested.

It also hears concerns from the inmates’ families.

“Their children are worried about them. They’re worried about their children that they can’t see. Their families are worried … and feel like they can’t do anything about this,” said Coyle.

The group called for immediate action, including the safe release of as many people as possible. That group ought to include people more vulnerable to COVID-19, including those over 50 years old, pregnant, with compromised immune systems or other factors, she said.

The group’s call was echoed by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, saying in a statement Friday that it has been appealing for action for over a month.

It has heard inmates describe prison conditions that include failing to follow social distancing protocols and lacking sanitary products, among other troubles.

The congress reiterated its “call for immediate steps to address overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in federal prisons, and to immediately release low-risk and non-violent offenders, those close to the end of sentences and those with serious chronic health conditions.”

Also Friday, a coalition of rights groups in B.C. called for immediate release of as many inmates as possible following the death of a Mission Institution prisoner this week.

Coyle remains hopeful about a possible release of prisoners.

“We can’t give up hope that there will be a response to our call,” she said.

“I’m hopeful that people will see the people who are in prison as human beings.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2020.

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Google in $5bn lawsuit for tracking in 'private' mode – BBC News

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Google has been sued in the US over claims it illegally invades the privacy of users by tracking people even when they are browsing in “private mode”.

The class action wants at least $5bn (£4bn) from Google and owner Alphabet.

Many internet users assume their search history isn’t being tracked when they view in private mode, but Google says this isn’t the case.

The search engine denies this is illegal and says it is upfront about the data it collects in this mode.

The proposed class action likely includes “millions” of Google users who since 1 June 2016 browsed the internet in private mode according to law firm Boies Schiller Flexner who filed the claim on Tuesday in federal court in San Jose, California.

Incognito mode within Google’s Chrome browser gives users the choice to search the internet without their activity being saved to the browser or device. But the websites visited can use tools such as Google Analytics to track usage.

The complaint says that Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone”.

Vigorously denying the claims Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said: “As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity”.

The search engine says the collection of search history, even in private viewing mode, helps site owners “better evaluate the performance of their content, products, marketing and more.”

While private browsing has been available from Google for some time, Boies Schiller Flexner said it recently decided to represent three plaintiffs based in the US.

“People everywhere are becoming more aware (and concerned) that their personal communications are being intercepted, collected, recorded, or exploited for gain by technology companies they have come to depend on,” it said in the filing.

One option is for visitors to install Google Analytics browser opt-out extension to disable measurement by Google Analytics, it says.

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Google is sued in US for tracking users' 'private' internet browsing – The Jerusalem Post

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Google was sued on Tuesday in a proposed class action accusing the internet search company of illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by pervasively tracking their internet use through browsers set in “private” mode.The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion, accusing the Alphabet Inc unit of surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse, despite their using what Google calls Incognito mode.According to the complaint filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads.This helps Google learn about users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online, the complaint said.Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” the complaint said.Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said the Mountain View, California-based company will defend itself vigorously against the claims.”As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity,” he said.While users may view private browsing as a safe haven from watchful eyes, computer security researchers have long raised concern that Google and rivals might augment user profiles by tracking people’s identities across different browsing modes, combining data from private and ordinary internet surfing.The complaint said the proposed class likely includes “millions” of Google users who since June 1, 2016 browsed the internet in “private” mode.It seeks at least $5,000 of damages per user for violations of federal wiretapping and California privacy laws.Boies Schiller & Flexner represents the plaintiffs Chasom Brown, Maria Nguyen and William Byatt.

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Huawei Snubbed by Canadian Firms Ahead of Trudeau’s Crucial 5G Call – Yahoo Finance

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(Bloomberg) — Two major Canadian wireless companies said they will build out their next-generation 5G wireless networks with equipment from European providers, sidelining China’s Huawei Technologies Co.

Montreal-based BCE Inc. said that Ericsson AB will provide the radio access network equipment — the critical antennas and base stations — for its 5G network. Telus Corp. said in a separate statement that it has selected Ericsson and Nokia Oyj “to support building” its network, without elaborating.

Those announcements come ahead of a closely watched — and long overdue — decision by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on whether to ban Huawei from participating in the nation’s 5G infrastructure amid deeply troubled relations with Beijing. Huawei previously played a large role in Canadian wireless networks but has faced growing national security concerns from Western governments.

BCE would still consider working with Huawei if the government allows their participation in 5G, the Canadian company said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The Trump administration has lobbied allies to ban Huawei 5G, saying its equipment would make networks vulnerable to exploitation by the Chinese government. Despite that, the U.K. said in January it would allow Huawei a limited role. In recent days, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has backtracked, saying it seeks to reduce reliance on the company’s technology and on China.

Telus and BCE awarded Huawei its first major project in North America in 2008 — a pivotal contract that helped cement the Chinese provider’s reputation as a global player that could compete on quality. The deal paved the way for it to become a major supplier to all three of Canada’s biggest telecom companies over the next decade.

Stalling in Ottawa

The Telus announcement comes as a particular surprise after Chief Financial Officer Doug French told the National Post in February that “we’re going to launch 5G with Huawei out of the gate” by the end of the year.

Telus spokeswoman Donna Ramirez didn’t immediately respond to a question on whether the company’s announcement still leaves room for Huawei to participate in its 5G rollout. Huawei said in an emailed statement it looks forward to the federal government completing its 5G review and making an evidence-based decision about its role in helping build Canada’s next-generation wireless networks.

Trudeau has stalled on whether to ban Huawei. Tensions between the two countries have been rising since Canadian authorities arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. handover request in late 2018. After her arrest, China put two Canadian citizens in jail, halted billions of dollars in Canadian imports and put two other Canadians on death row.

The extradition proceedings against Meng, the eldest daughter of the company’s billionaire founder, have pushed Canada’s relationship with its second-biggest trading partner into its worst state in decades. Beijing has accused Canada of abetting a U.S.-led “political persecution” against a national champion.

(Updates eighth paragraph with statement from Huawei)

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