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Monday, July 6, 2020

Two Nice Jewish Boys Episode 113 – The Dark Side of Innovation

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Naor Meningher and Eytan Weinstein
Two Nice Jewish Boys is a weekly podcast in English about life in Israel. Naor Meningher and Eytan Weinstein offer you a glimpse of Israel and some of the interesting people who live here. Naor Meninger is an independent filmmaker. He’s obsessed with Italy and runs the Israeli parmesan black-market. Eytan Weinstein is an interactive scriptwriter. He grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and pronounces the word “drawer” funny.

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Hi-tech and innovation have brought many good things to the world. Social media connected us to one another and in doing so gave power to the citizens of the world. Search engines gave us access to knowledge and the day may come when autonomous cars will rid us of accidents on the road and save millions of lives.

But start-ups may also have dark sides. Facebook helped, unwittingly, spread fake news and foreign governments used it to intervene in the democratic process in America. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are used for drug and weapon trafficking, far from the eyes of law enforcement. And then there’s privacy. It’s that thing we used to have, and maybe never will again.

So innovation goes both ways. That we know. But what happens when companies innovate to provide tools for governments to intercept their citizens’ activities, extract information about them and maybe ultimately – prosecute them and violate their basic human rights?

In recent years more and more Israeli companies are blamed for doing exactly that. In a huge investigative report on Haaretz – one of Israel’s leading newspapers, reporters Hagar Shezaf and Yonathan Yakobzon, delved into the dark pasts of a few of these companies. What they found was alarming. Hagar Shezaf of Haaretz, joins us today to talk about the investigation and the piece she co-wrote.

The report on Haaretz
Hagar’s pieces on Haaretz
Hagar Shezaf on Twitter

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