Tag Archives: bc

Federal Government Provides $3m to Tech Companies in BC

If you are a small or mid size business in British Columbia, Canada, you are in luck. Feds will be providing $3m to help you through the recession due to Covid19 virus.

Economic Development Minister Melanie Joly said that $3m will be distributed between the companies shortly.

According to the federal government, more than 2,500 firms will benefit and more than 1,000 jobs will be created.

The $3m fund is part of $304-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund announced for Western Canada.

Joly said that this $3m fund shows that federal government cares about BC and their technology advancements.

$3m feels like a drop in the bucket considering a lot of small tech companies are out of money and laying off their employees, but better than nothing.

UPDATED: Canadian Privacy Agency to Investigate US Facial Recognition Firm

Update #1: The company in this story, Clearview AI, has just been hacked and more than 2,200 organizations spanning law enforcement to universities have their information accessed. Clearview has clients such as US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Justice, the FBI, Macy’s, Best Buy. In Canada multiple police agencies have used them such as Ontario Provincial Police, Ottawa Police, RCPM, Durham Police, etc.


Canadian privacy agency has launched an investigation into NY-based Clearview AI firm to see if its facial recognition technology complies with Canadian privacy laws.

Clearview uses millions of images across the internet to screen for potential terrorists and criminals. Many law enforcement agencies in US and Canada , like Durham Regional Police in Ontario, have used or have tested the technology.

Critics in both US and Canada said that just pulling images from internet provides no consent , and can be used misused.

The indiscriminate scraping of the internet to collect images of people’s faces for law enforcement purposes has significant privacy implications for all Ontarians. We have made it clear in the past that my office should be consulted before this type of technology is used.

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Brian Beamish

Ontario privacy commissioner

Privacy regulators in every province in Canada have agreed to work together to develop guidance on usage of bio-metric data when it comes to facial recognition.

Some twitter users expressed their dissatisfaction with this facial recognition data used by the police.

Police chief in Ontario said that even though they have used the technology to on trial basis , they will discontinue the use of it until further guidance.

The Durham Police Chief ordered that the use of such technology (facial recognition) be stopped immediately until the matter is reviewed and further direction is received from the privacy commissioner.

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Dave Selby

Police spokesperson, Durham Regional Police Service

Data OF 15 Million LifeLabs’ Canadian Customers Compromised

Lifelabs , Canada’s largest provider of health diagnostic testing services, acknowledged that more than 15 million of accounts have been compromised in a recent hack.

However Lifelabs has mentioned that they have negotiated with hackers and paid a ransom fee to get the data back.

Information of more than 15 million of customers in British Columbia and Ontario have been compromised. Data like the names, addresses, email addresses, customer logins and passwords, health card numbers and lab test results have been accessed by hackers.

The company states that the hack has occurred on November 1st 2019.

This is not the first time LifeLabs gets hacked. They had similar incident few years ago where hard drives with data of thousands of patients were stolen.

Lifelabs apologizes for the incident and says that it will offer one free year of identity theft insurance as well as dark web monitoring.

An Open Letter to LifeLabs Customers

To our customers:

Through proactive surveillance, LifeLabs recently identified a cyber-attack that involved unauthorized access to our computer systems with customer information that could include name, address, email, login, passwords, date of birth, health card number and lab test results.

Personally, I want to say I am sorry that this happened. As we manage through this issue, my team and I remain focused on the best interests of our customers. You entrust us with important health information, and we take that responsibility very seriously.

We have taken several measures to protect our customer information including:

Immediately engaging with world-class cyber security experts to isolate and secure the affected systems and determine the scope of the breach;

Further strengthening our systems to deter future incidents;

Retrieving the data by making a payment. We did this in collaboration with experts familiar with cyber-attacks and negotiations with cyber criminals;

Engaging with law enforcement, who are currently investigating the matter; and

Offering cyber security protection services to our customers, such as identity theft and fraud protection insurance.

I want to emphasize that at this time, our cyber security firms have advised that the risk to our customers in connection with this cyber-attack is low and that they have not seen any public disclosure of customer data as part of their investigations, including monitoring of the dark web and other online locations.

We have fixed the system issues related to the criminal activity and worked around the clock to put in place additional safeguards to protect your information. In the interest of transparency and as required by privacy regulations, we are making this announcement to notify all customers. There is information relating to approximately 15 million customers on the computer systems that were potentially accessed in this breach. The vast majority of these customers are in B.C. and Ontario, with relatively few customers in other locations. In the case of lab test results, our investigations to date of these systems indicate that there are 85,000 impacted customers from 2016 or earlier located in Ontario; we will be working to notify these customers directly. Our investigation to date indicates any instance of health card information was from 2016 or earlier.

While you are entitled to file a complaint with the privacy commissioners, we have already notified them of this breach and they are investigating the matter. We have also notified our government partners.

While we’ve been taking steps over the last several years to strengthen our cyber defenses, this has served as a reminder that we need to stay ahead of cybercrime which has become a pervasive issue around the world in all sectors.

Any customer who is concerned about this incident can receive one free year of protection that includes dark web monitoring and identity theft insurance.

Yours sincerely,

President and CEO

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Charles Brown

LifeLabs

BC might finally get Uber

British Columbia has finally introduced legislation where you can drive for Uber legally in that province. This will officially kick in around mid of 2019.

You would need to get a Class 4 (or more known as commercial license) instead of normal Class 5 license and undergo criminal check to drive for the ride sharing company.

Transportation Minister , Claire Trevena , said it is a matter of safety:

“It’s got stricter limits on it and I think that anybody who’s getting in as a passenger wants to know the driver is as safe as possible.”

Here is what the difference is:

Class 4 (unrestricted)

School bus

What you can use it for:

  • To drive buses with a maximum seating capacity of 25 persons (including the driver), including school buses, special activity buses and special vehicles used to transport people with disabilities
  • To drive taxis and limousines
  • To drive ambulances
  • To drive any vehicle in Class 5

Class 5 or 7 driver’s licence

Car

What you can use it for:

  • To drive cars, vans, trucks, construction, utility vehicles (2 axles maximum) and motorhomes (may exceed 2 axles)
  • To tow trailers or vehicles up to 4,600kg
  • To ride a limited speed motorcycle or an all-terrain vehicle (ATV)
  • To ride 3-wheeled vehicles but does not include 3-wheeled motorcycles (trikes) or motorcycle/sidecar combinations

Uber’s Dissapointment

Uber Manager Michael van Hemme said he was disappointed by the BC’s decision as Class 4 license is more difficult to get:

“Drivers, experienced safe drivers have a hard time understanding why they would need to get a special driver’s licence to drive the same vehicle that they’re already driving, so it definitely becomes a barrier to a lot of people to participate.”

“I hope that the government is willing to continue to engage until the entire framework is finalized and we will continue to work with the NDP government and all parties to ensure true best practices from other jurisdictions are adopted here in B.C. and lay out the benefits of doing so,” van Hemmen said.

MichaelGaida / Pixabay

Bad Decision?

Helen del Val from North Vancouver wrote in to The Vancouver Sun questioning the British Columbia’s NDP government’s decision:

“I take early and late flights on a regular basis for work so I take taxis. On the last trip, I waited 45 minutes for a cab home.

When I read Tuesday’s article about some of the rules and regulations being put in place to bring Uber in, I pre-booked YVR parking for a trip and I will pre-book it for next week’s trip and so on. I’m driving. Every other city has figured out ride-hailing so why can’t we?

The provincial government’s action in putting up all the hurdles to block/delay Uber is akin to a judge setting bail at an amount he or she knows the accused cannot raise. Our government has no will and courage to bring in Uber and lacks the integrity to admit it.”

 

Vancouver to Seattle Highspeed Train Almost a Reality

Update: While High speed train is being studied by both provincial and state governments, a private company, Harbour Air Seaplanes, has launched a seaplane that gets you in Seattle in around 1 hour from Vancouver.

The tickets are around $400 but if speed is what you are after – this will be the best option for you right now.  Please note Nexus, Enhanced Drivers Licenses and passport cards are not accepted at this border crossing. Passport is Required.


Who needs Amazon HQ2 in Canada, when you can soon be able to  travel by high speed train reaching speeds of about 400 km/h from Vancouver to Seattle. This means you can live and enjoy your free health care in Vancouver Canada while working and making double Canadian salary at Amazon HQ in Seattle in under 1 hour. Right now same that same trip takes around 4.5 hours.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan spoke approvingly of the possible high speed train after it was announced that BC provincial government will spend additional $300k to study the plan while Washington state approved funding of up to US$1.2 million toward the new in-depth study.

John Horgan, BC premier said:

“It’s our view that this is an opportunity that we shouldn’t let pass by. It’s a physical link between our two jurisdictions and one that will get cars off of the road and will move people and goods in a fast and effective way.”

“The convenience of a one-hour trip between Vancouver and Seattle would create countless opportunities for people in both B.C. and Washington, from sports or concert getaways for families, to untold economic growth potential for businesses. Exploring the possibility of creating a clean, efficient high-speed corridor is particularly important as the Pacific Northwest grows in economic importance, and we look to reduce barriers to expansion across our borders.”

This train corridor service would cut travel times between Vancouver and Seattle to about 60 minutes, from three to five hours.

If train link is successful it can help create up to 200,000 jobs for B.C. and U.S. workers, and generate billions of dollars in economic benefits.

 

Amazon To Hire 1,000 IT Pros in Vancouver, Open 2nd Office

No no, This is not their 2nd HQ office. Amazon is opening a second office in Vancouver to grow their team from 1,000 tech professionals to 2,000 within the next few years.

Alexandre Gagnon, Amazon Canada VP said:

“Amazon is excited to continue growing our workforce throughout Canada. We are among the largest employers of software engineers in Canada and look forward to continuing to create new job opportunities for Canadians.”

Vancouver Mayor Robertson could not have been more excited when he twitted:

Amazon now operates in Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto employing over 5,000 employees.

John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia twitted:

skeeze / Pixabay

Congrats to British Columbia and Canada on being able to attract some top tier companies to come here.