Company Threatens To Sue NBC For Reporting On Its Facial Recognition Tech Being Used Against Palestinians

from the how-not-to-handle-journalists dept

Earlier this week, NBC News had quite a story about a facial recognition tech company in Israel, named AnyVision, that is being used by the Israeli military to conduct surveillance on Palestinians in the West Bank. Much of the article focuses on the fact that Microsoft invested in AnyVision, at a time when Microsoft claims it's been taking the moral high ground and unwilling to work on more nefarious uses of things like facial recognition technology. The story hits on a bunch of different points that we regularly cover at Techdirt, from misuses of facial recognition to large company hypocrisy. But we're writing about it for a different reason: the way that AnyVision's CEO reacted upon being contacted by NBC reporters:

When NBC News first approached AnyVision for an interview, CEO Eylon Etshtein denied any knowledge of "Google Ayosh," threatened to sue NBC News and said that AnyVision was the “most ethical company known to man.” He disputed that the West Bank was “occupied” and questioned the motivation of the NBC News inquiry, suggesting the reporter must have been funded by a Palestinian activist group.

As a general rule, when reporters come calling, asking for comment on a questionable thing your company may be engaged in, don't threaten to sue. Also, generally speaking, calling yourself the "most ethical company known to man" probably throws up some red flags too (as does the denial of a program that NBC had documentation about...). All that really does is tell a reporter that they're on to something.

The story itself, of course, raises all sorts of questions about how governments, law enforcement, and the military might use facial recognition -- a technology that still hasn't been proven to be particularly accurate. There's a reason why many places are banning the use of the technology by law enforcement. At the very least, any such use deserves public discussion and scrutiny -- not bogus threats of lawsuits.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: eylon etshtein, facial recognition, israel, journalism, palestinians, surveillance, threats
Companies: anyvision, microsoft, nbc


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread


  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Oct 2019 @ 1:23pm

    Re:

    Which is absolutely true... so long as you limit your sample size to one.


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories
.

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.