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Dating apps like Grindr and Tinder are sharing 'really sensitive' data: report –



Dating apps like Grindr, OkCupid and Tinder are sharing users’ personal information — including their locations and sexual orientations — with potentially hundreds of shadowy third-party companies, a new report has found

The Norwegian Consumer Council, a government-funded non-profit organization, said it found “serious privacy infringements” in its analysis of online ad companies that track and profile smartphone users.

“I think we should be really worried because we’ve uncovered really pervasive tracking of users on our mobile phones, but at the safe time uncovered that it’s really hard for us to do anything about it as individuals,” Finn Myrstad, the council’s digital policy director, told As It Happens host Carol Off.

“Not only do you share [your data] with the app that you’re using, but the app is in turn sharing it with maybe hundreds of other companies that you’ve never heard of.”

LBGTQ and other vulnerable people at risk

The group commissioned cybersecurity company Mnemonic to study 10 Android mobile apps. It found that the apps sent user data to at least 135 different third-party services involved in advertising or behavioural profiling.

When it comes to dating apps, that data can be extremely personal, Myrstad said. It can include your sexual orientation, HIV status, religious beliefs and more. 

“We’re really talking about really sensitive information,” he said.

“That could be, for example, one dating app where you have to answer a questionnaire such as, ‘What is your favourite cuddling position?’ or if you’ve ever used drugs, and if so, what kind of drugs — so information that you’d probably like to keep private.”

And that’s just the information users are giving over willingly, he said. There’s also another level of information that companies can extrapolate using things like location tracking.

“If I spend a lot of time at a mental-health clinic, it can reveal my mental state, for example,” he said. 

This Oct. 26, 2009, photo, shows the IAC building in New York. The company, which owns Tinder and OkCupid, says it shares information with third parties only when it is ‘deemed necessary to operate its platform’ with third-party apps. (Mark Lennihan/The Associated Press)

Because people don’t know which companies have which information, he says there’s no way to be sure what it’s being used for.

Companies could build user profiles and use those for nefarious or discriminatory purposes, he said, like blocking people from seeing housing ads based on demographics, or targeting vulnerable people with election disinformation.

“You can be … triggered to, say, take up consumer debts or mortgages that are bad subprime purchases, payday loans and these sort of things because companies know about your vulnerabilities, and it’s easier to target you because your clicks are tracked and your movements are tracked,” he said. 

People who use Grindr — an app that caters exclusively to LGBTQ people — could risk being outed against their will, he said, or put in danger when they travel to countries were same-sex relationships are illegal.

“If you have the app, it’s a pretty good indication that you’re gay or bi,” he said. “This can put people’s life at risk.”

‘The privacy paradox’

The council took action against some of the companies it examined, filing formal complaints with Norway’s data protection authority against Grindr, Twitter-owned mobile app advertising platform MoPub and four ad tech companies.

Grindr sent data including users’ GPS location, age and gender to the other companies, the council said.

Twitter said it disabled Grindr’s MoPub account and is investigating the issue “to understand the sufficiency of Grindr’s consent mechanism.”

In an emailed statement, Grindr said it is “currently implementing an enhanced consent management platform … to provide users with additional in-app control regarding their personal data. ” 

“While we reject a number of the report’s assumptions and conclusions, we welcome the opportunity to be a small part in a larger conversation about how we can collectively evolve the practices of mobile publishers and continue to provide users with access to an option of a free platform,” the company said.

“As the data protection landscape continues to change, our commitment to user privacy remains steadfast.”

IAC, owner of The Match Group, which owns Tinder and OkCupid, said the company shares information with third parties only when it is “deemed necessary to operate its platform” with third-party apps. 

Myrstad says there’s a commonly-held belief that people willingly waver their privacy for the conveniences of modern technology — but he doesn’t buy it.

“People are really concerned about their privacy, and they are really concerned about their cybersecurity and their safety,” he said.

But in a modern context, he says people are offered a “take it or leave it choice” when it comes to apps, social media and dating services. 

“It’s what we call the privacy paradox. People feel that they have no choice, so they sort of close their eyes and they click ‘yes,'” he said.

“So what we’re trying to do is to ensure that services have much more layered controls, that sharing is off by default … so that people can be empowered again to make real choices.”

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from The Associated Press. Interview with Finn Myrstad produced by Morgan Passi.

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Oil Prices Stuck In Limbo As Uncertainty Mounts –



Oil Prices Stuck In Limbo As Uncertainty Mounts |

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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    Oil Prices

    Oil prices are unlikely to move much higher from the current levels in the low $40s, at least not for the rest of the year, a growing number of analysts and industry professionals say.  Oil has been stuck in a narrow trading range in the low $40s more or less since July after the market began to worry that even with large supply cuts from OPEC+ and curtailments in the U.S., demand will not recover fast and strong enough to draw down the record-high inventories that had built in the second quarter.   

    This year has been a year of uncertainties on all markets, including the oil market, but it looks as if uncertainties have grown since we entered the second half of 2020, instead of abating as analysts had predicted earlier this year. 

    Uncertainties about a second wave of COVID-19 and renewed restrictions on social gatherings in several major European economies are weighing on oil market sentiment. China’s ability to continue propping up oil demand with record-high crude oil purchases is also called into question. The U.S. election is another major uncertainty and whatever the result, the markets, including the energy market, will be impacted.

    In recent weeks, uncertainties over when (if ever) oil demand will return to the pre-crisis levels have increased with demand recovery basically stalled and China appearing to slow down its oil imports.

    A lot of the major players on the oil market, including some of the largest independent oil traders such as Trafigura and Mercuria, have been bearish on oil near term, expecting global stocks to build in the fourth quarter – due to weak demand – before starting to decline. The biggest independent oil trader in the world, Vitol Group, however, was quite bullish two weeks ago. The world’s stockpiles of oil have diminished by around 300 million barrels since peaking at 1.2 billion barrels early this summer, and are expected to decline by another 250 million-300 million barrels between September and December, Vitol’s chief executive Russell Hardy told Bloomberg in mid-September.  

    Related: China’s Crude Oil Imports Are Slowing Down But another executive at Vitol, executive committee member Chris Bake, said on Gulf Intelligence’s weekly energy podcast on Sunday that demand is looking more uncertain amid a “huge amount of uncertainty” about COVID-19, economies, monetary stimulus, and oil demand. 

    “The conventional wisdom going into the fourth quarter was that things were going to improve,” Bake said, noting that “it doesn’t feel like we have a huge catalyst” for the rest of the year. 

    According to Bake, there is a “big push-pull between the demand and supply side, and the demand side right now looks very uncertain; the supply side probably will need to adjust to that.”

    The deteriorating demand outlook comes just as OPEC+ is preparing to further ease – as of January – the current production cuts, leading to speculation that the group is set for a turbulent dialogue in the fourth quarter about its supply-fixing decisions. 

    There is uncertainty about OPEC+ “holding the line without making another move,” Vitol’s Bake said on the Gulf Intelligence podcast. 

    Related: Oil Bulls Return As OPEC+ Reassures Markets

    Many economies in Europe also face increased uncertainty with surging COVID-19 cases. The City of London’s biggest employers, banks, had just started slowly returning staff to offices, encouraging employees to drive to work with cash incentives or paying their taxi fares, when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week that everyone who can, should work from home. Banks reversed plans for employees returning to the office, stricter local restrictions are imposed in some areas in the UK, and London faces a local lockdown with a possible ban on household mixing if it wants to avoid a full lockdown. France also announced stricter restrictions last week, while the Spanish capital Madrid is also tightening restrictions but stopping short of a city-wide lockdown. 

    No government in Europe is inclined to repeat a nationwide lockdown, looking to avoid another devastating economic hit, but local restrictions are already happening. 

    The uncertainty isn’t helping either consumer confidence or the economy and is stalling oil demand recovery. At the same time, supply is set to grow from Libya after a tentative truce and the re-opening of some of the ports.    

    If the huge amount of uncertainty in demand persists in the fourth quarter, the OPEC+ group may be forced to review its supply-fixing policy, potentially fracturing the alliance, again. 

    By Tsvetana Paraskova for

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      Ford To Produce New Electric Cars In Canada – InsideEVs



      Ford of Canada announced today that it will invest C$1.8 billion ($1.35 billion) in its Oakville Assembly Complex in Oakville, Ontario, to improve the plant and produce new battery electric vehicles.

      The company didn’t provide any more details besides that the site will start manufacturing all-electric cars in 2024. That’s some four years from now.

      “Based on the collective agreement ratified by employees today, Ford is committing to transform its Oakville Assembly Complex from an internal combustion engine (ICE) site to also become a BEV manufacturing facility, starting in 2024, as well as introducing a new engine program at its Windsor operations.”

      Maybe a quick look at the Oakville Assembly Complex’s current products will give us a glimpse of what to expect? Currently, the factory is making Ford Edge mid-size crossover SUV and Lincoln Nautilus (MKX) Mid-size luxury SUV.

      Well, it would be great to see an all-electric Ford Edge or BEV of a similar type, but the timing is very far away.

      Anyway, Ford intends to be the first all-electric car manufacturer in Canada.

      The official press release is also about other non-EV related topics concerning the Oakville Assembly Complex, like operational improvements to maximize production flexibility and agreement on employee wages, bonuses and other benefits.

      Previously, there were worries about the future of the Oakville Assembly Complex:

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      Nova Scotia company waiting on Health Canada approval for rapid antigen test for COVID-19 – CTV News Atlantic



      HALIFAX —
      The Sona Nanotech lab in Dartmouth is making history by developing a rapid antigen test for COVID-19.

      “There was a moment of tremendous pride for the entire team, as Canadians, when our evaluation results came back from both third-party laboratories and in-field trials and it showed how strongly our test preformed,” said CEO David Regan.

      Here’s a simple breakdown of how the test works: After a nasal pharyngeal swab is administered, the swab is placed in a tube of solution for a few moments. Then, a sample of that is placed on a lateral flow test, like a pregnancy test. The results appear within 15 minutes.

      “The Sona Nanotech test is like a pregnancy test. It’s a lateral flow test and those pregnancy tests detect the existence of a hormone, our test detects the presence of the coronavirus,” said Regan.

      Sona Nanotech is the only company in Canada to come up with this technology.

      “The four antigen tests that have been approved in the U.S. so far are from billion dollar companies, multi-billion dollar companies, with vast resources,” said Regan.

      “This test at Sona Nanotech has been developed in the lab, here at the bays in Dartmouth based on research that was started at St. Francis Xavier University in the chemistry lab there and brought to fruition over the last nine months.”

      Regan says the test could help triage people faster and free up the health-care system.

      “A rapid test for COVID would be a great idea,” said Dr. Todd Hatchette, the Chief of Microbiology with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. “Having the ability to provide results within 15 or 20 minutes can be helpful in many different situations. But again, it comes back to primary concern, are these tests accurate, and are they sensitive to pick up the infection.”

      Regan says it is.

      “This is a screening device that can be used widespread to pick up not only the virus of those people that have symptoms but importantly, before people have symptoms,” he said. “At that stage, positives can be sent to the labs for confirmation but that will be result in much shorter turnaround times.”

      Right now, it’s a waiting game for the lab as they seek approval from Health Canada.

      In the meantime, the company is also working on a saliva at-home test, which is considered in the early stages of development.

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