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The leaders of Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan committed to work together on the research, development and construction of nuclear reactor technology to create “clean and low-cost energy,” and “benefit energy-intensive industries, including the mining and manufacturing sectors.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: Per the memorandum of understanding signed Sunday, one of the collaboration’s goals is “to positively influence the federal government to provide a clear unambiguous statement that nuclear energy is a clean technology and is required as part of the climate change solution.” The federal government has described small modular reactors (SMR) as the “next wave of innovation” in nuclear energy, releasing an SMR roadmap last year, with several recommendations on regulation readiness and waste management. Only about a dozen Canadian companies are currently in pre-licensing review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for SMR technology, which the provincial leaders touted as an approximate $10-billion industry.

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The Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI) system allows travellers between the two countries to upload data such as proof of citizenship and education on their phones. Travellers can consent to share that information with border authorities, airlines and other pilot partners in advance. After they have verified their identity multiple times, they can obtain “known traveller status,” speeding up their the check-in process. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has been exploring the use of mobile technology for travellers; this pilot is an early example of its deployment. In July 2018, the department published public-opinion research that showed an overall positive attitude toward the convenience associated with an app for passport renewal. But the respondents expressed privacy concerns about virtual passports, which would use Canada’s existing paper passports at check-in, then allow travellers to pass through other airport checkpoints using facial recognition. Travellers aren’t the only ones with concerns. The World Economic Forum and Accenture also raised several privacy issues with using blockchain technology in the KTDI project, because with some setups, it’s possible for every individual involved with the blockchain to see every change. However, the KTDI said the blockchain used does not contain any personally identifiable information.

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Only 28 per cent of users of distributed applications built on blockchain platforms used Ethereum in January 2019, down from 100 per cent the previous year, according to DappRader, a tracking company. Rivals EOS and Tron had 48 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: Ethereum—co-founded by Canadian Vitalik Buterin—had first-mover advantage in the distributed applications space for almost four years. But over the last year, competitors have offered better speeds and lower costs, causing startups to shift their initial coin offerings and launch their products on other platforms. A made-in-Canada example suggests Ethereum may have been a victim of its own success: in December 2017, Kitchener, Ont.-based Kik said it would launch its Kin token on the Stellar blockchain instead of Ethereum, because the latter was unreliable and slow to scale. Kik blamed Ethereum’s speed problems partly on the success of CryptoKitties, a virtual pet game created by Vancouver-based Dappler Labs which was so popular it congested the blockchain network.

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The CEO said in a video town hall that the growing campaign—which now includes Canada’s biggest banks—to pull ads from the social media platform this month may hurt the company’s reputation, but likely won’t have a material effect on its financials. (The Information, The Canadian Press)

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Talking point: More than 530 firms have pledged to join the boycott, spurred by a post by President Donald Trump that critics said incited violence against Black rights protesters. While participants include some massive companies like Unilever, Starbucks and Microsoft, their combined spending on Facebook is marginal compared to the platform’s overall ad revenue—the vast majority of which it collects from small- and mid-sized businesses. For example, the biggest eight boycotters together spent about US$690 million on Facebook ads in 2019, compared to the US$69.7 billion the firm collected from ads that year, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Even if the 100 biggest advertisers on the platform joined the boycott, that would represent less than a tenth of the firm’s global ad revenue. While the short-term impacts may be marginal, the reputational risk to the company is still a concern. Facebook has tried appeasing boycotters, for example by adding more context to problematic posts related to politics and elections. At the same time, the company denied that it profits from hate on its platform—the very issue the campaign is asking it to address—even as it faces fresh allegations of bias against its Black workers and job candidates.

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The EU has sent a 60-page questionnaire to Google and Fitbit’s competitors, asking whether the US$2.1-billion deal will harm competition or give the Alphabet subsidiary an edge over rivals. The probe comes as 20 consumer groups around the world, including Canada’s Public Interest Advocacy Centre, urged regulators to block the deal. “Regulators must assume that Google will in practice utilise the entirety of Fitbit’s currently independent unique, highly sensitive data set in combination with its own,” reads the letter. (Financial Times, Business Insider)

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Talking point: Google announced in November 2019 that it was buying the wearable manufacturer, promising to be transparent about any data collected and never use Fitbit’s data for Google ads. A Google spokesperson recently told Reuters, “This deal is about devices, not data,” adding that the acquisition “will increase competition in the sector.” That hasn’t dispelled concerns. Google is already under scrutiny by U.S. regulators in a broader antitrust probe of its online ad business. Last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it would investigate the “uniqueness and potential value” that Fitbit’s data would give Google. Sources told the Financial Times that the EU could also be getting ready for a more in-depth investigation and may block the deal, with July 20 being the deadline for that decision. Despite those actions, experts say blocking the deal will prove a tough task.

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The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and its counterparts in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta will examine whether the company obtains meaningful consent from users when collecting and using their data to build user profiles. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The investigation comes on the heels of a Financial Post investigation into the Tim Hortons app. Journalist James McLeod found the app was often tracking his movements—and sending the ensuing data to a third-party company to analyze—even when the app wasn’t open on his phone. The company said it will stop its detailed location tracking.