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Canada’s inflation rate turned negative

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Canada’s inflation rate fell to an annualized –0.2 per cent in April, as the COVID-19 in B.C pandemic pushed down consumer prices for the first time in more than a decade.

Statistics Canada’s consumer price index plummeted to negative reading as the price of just about everything got much cheaper last month than it was a year ago. April’s decline was the first time Canada’s year-over-year inflation rate fell into negative territory since September 2009.

Among the major categories seeing huge price declines were:

  • Gasoline, down by almost 40 per cent.
  • Traveler accommodation, down by almost 10 per cent.
  • Electricity prices, down by more than four per cent.
  • Clothing and footwear, down by almost six per cent.

Food prices were among the few products that got more expensive during the month, rising by 3.4 per cent overall due to “higher demand for non-perishable food products, as consumers were encouraged to limit grocery shopping trips as a result of physical distancing measures,” the data agency said.

The well-documented surge in demand for toilet paper helped push prices in that product category up six per cent, the biggest spike on record.

The price of clothing came down, mainly because just about all clothing stores were forcibly shut down during the month, which made inventory pile up and forced any retailers with the capacity to sell online to do so, often at deep discounts. The clothing and footwear category fell by 5.9 per cent from March to April, the deepest plunge on record.

The data agency noted that much of the decline in electricity prices came from the Ontario government’s decision to scrap time-based pricing during the month and bill people at the lowest possible rate, regardless of when they are using power

Toronto-Dominion Bank economist James Marple said the data clearly shows that although sectors hit hard by COVID-19, such as hotels and clothing stores, were forced to slash prices to grab whatever customers they could find, on the whole the numbers don’t suggest Canada is facing long-term deflation.

“While we would caution against placing too much emphasis on the stability in core measures given the difficulty price collectors had in April (and the need to extrapolate prices for items that they could not measure), the fact remains that outside of the most impacted sectors, price growth remains positive,” he said.

And the biggest factor dragging down the inflation rate was the huge plunge in gasoline prices, which are already showing signs of heading back up.

“With activity slowly normalizing through May, the biggest of the price declines are likely in the rear-view mirror,” Marple said.

While the headline of price declines obviously draws attention, Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter said the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, given that Statistics Canada was essentially imputing the price for a lot of products and services that couldn’t even have been purchased during the month, like vacation packages and haircuts.

“As much as this is an important release, the reality is that the market for a number of goods and especially services was shut down in April, so many of the prices for that month are nearly meaningless,” Porter said.

“We suspect that when the economy partially reopens and the dust settles, underlying inflation will be close to zero.”

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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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