The PimEyes face search engine is alarmingly accurate and precise, capable of selecting faces from the crowd

A new report by the New York Times takes subscription-based face search engine PimEyes for a test and comes back with privacy-worrying results. A test of a number of reporters from the newspaper unearthed a surprisingly accurate collection of results, including decades-old images, images in which the subject’s face was obscured, and even images in which they were standing. in the midst of a blurry crowd.

PimEyes claims neutrality and is only a “tools provider”, but the company’s business model raises questions. It offers “premium subscriptions” that range in price from $90 to $300 per month, which allows you to request that particular photos be excluded from search results made available to all other users of the platform.

‘Scary’ face search engine instantly unearths photo histories

Face search engines crawling the internet aren’t a new concept, but this apparent level of accuracy (backed by an advanced AI algorithm) hasn’t been made available to the general public before. The obvious comparison to PimEyes is the much-hyped (and much maligned) Clearview AI, but that company at least restricts its access to law enforcement. The only barrier to accessing PimEyes is a $29.99 per month subscription.

NYT reporters tested the face search engine on themselves and found images on the internet from as far back as 10 years ago, including those in which the face was partially obscured. Masks, sunglasses, and even partially turning away from the camera don’t seem like a reliable way to hide from PimEyes. Other photos have chosen individuals from groups of people at concerts, in airports and at weddings.

One of the few major restrictions the face search engine places on these results is that it does not return photos from social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, possibly due to the same type of issues as Clearview. AI has encountered violating various terms of use. while scraping user profiles. However, he crawls porn sites, and reporters have found that they sometimes get false positives.

A woman who suffered from PimEyes locating her old explicit photos spoke publicly to CNN about the kind of damage the face search engine is capable of doing. Dear Scarlett, a software engineer, had done an explicit photoshoot in 2005 under a different name that she thought was buried and forgotten. However, PimEyes matched him with old photos from one of the (apparently numerous) porn sites he tracks. She hadn’t believed before that websites still displayed the images.

Face Search Engine Court Rules

PimEyes owner Giorgi Gobronidze touts the face search engine as a “tool for good” intended to allow people to search for their own images to protect their reputations. The terms of use of the site require users to search only for themselves or for parties who have given their consent, but do not verify or enforce this in any way. PimEyes removes specific images from its results at the request of the user, but initially it looks like the site is directing the user to a “PROtect plan” (which costs between $89.99 and $299.99) by months to unlock the ability. A free image deletion request form is available, but is not advertised on the main landing page and requires exploring the privacy policy to find it. There is also a withdrawal request form which is free but requires the user to provide a photo of themselves, a practice with which Clearview AI has also had some problems. Scarlett reported in an April Medium post that the opt-out request didn’t work for her, and a follow-up NYT search found the explicit photos were still there.

Gobronidze says the face search engine blocks abusive users, such as those who perform an “excessive” number of searches (he cited 1,000 searches per day as an example). He also said the site is not taking customers from Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine. But the site is already under some legal scrutiny, with Germany’s data protection regulator launching an investigation a year ago into potential abuses of the General Data Protection Regulation (PimEyes was put on hold). line for the first time in 2017).

NYT reporters tested the face search engine on themselves and found images on the internet from as far back as 10 years ago, including those in which the face was partially obscured. #privacy #datarespectClick to tweet

The controversial face search engine is likely to prove difficult to regulate given that it is based in Gobronidze’s native Georgia, structured as a branch of a Dubai-registered company. While there may be few legal mechanisms to coerce the company’s hand in the short term, John Gunn (CEO of Token) believes that the company will need to adopt some kind of identification system for customers and better filtering processes, otherwise it could find itself banned from one country after another (as Clearview AI has been): ” It is completely hypocritical for PIM Eyes to claim that they do their best to limit searches to only the person requesting the search, they could simply ask users to submit their driver’s license, passport or other ID. photo ID, verify it with a digital ID insurance provider such as Mitek or Jumio, and then use their own technology to narrow the search If banks can lend thousands of dollars on a single coin PIM Eyes can easily adopt this low-cost technology as well, and their current approach calls for government intervention and regulation.