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  • Uri Berkovitz

Globes: Helping tech cos help themselves on human rights

CybeRighTech advises Israeli companies on how to ensure that sensitive technology does not fall into repressive hands.

Concerns about NSO and Cellebrite reflect the possible clash between the use of different technologies and issues related to human rights, especially in light of the technology’s sophistication. "I’ve seen lots of cases where a technology company enters a 'minefield' and gets into trouble, for example Israeli company AnyVision," says Dr. Matan Gutman, who founded a company that deals with the subject.

In the case of AnyVision, Microsoft announced that it would realize its investment in the company, which develops a face recognition technology implemented in Judea and Samaria. Microsoft's audit committee concluded that the company's technology was not used for mass surveillance of Palestinians in the West Bank, as alleged, but also that its investigation was limited due to legal restrictions. Microsoft concluded that its minority share did not allow for a sufficient level of monitoring.

"As a human rights expert, I have begun to see an awakening among international organizations and Western countries - the United Nations, the OECD, the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom - when it comes to dealing with technology, individual rights and ethics," Gutman added.

To help companies in need of advice on on the matter, Gutman - an adjunct professor at the IDC - founded CRT with Elie Mersel. Gutman served as Mersel's chief of staff when the latter was director general of the State Comptroller's Office. CRT, an acronym for CyberRighTech, wants to help companies avoid conflicts between the use of technology and human rights, by formulating rules and work procedures that comply with international rules.

"Eli and I have talked a lot about these issues in recent years, and we understand that the ecosystem of technology and innovation must also have a dimension of accountability to investors, customers, employees and, above all, the general public," Gutman says. The company also recruited well-known advisers: retired judge Yosef Chaim Shapira; Prof. Shmuel Hauser, former chairman of the Israel Securities Authority and Senior Vice President at Ono Academic College; and retired Supreme Court justice Salim Joubran.

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