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PimEyes owner insists on ‘ethical use’ of facial recognition search site

Giorgi Gobronidze, the owner of PimEyes, a face search website that uses an artificial intelligence-based facial recognition system to find people’s images on the web, says website users should be more ethical in the way they search for photos.

According to Gobronidze, “ethical use” of the photo search site means that users should only search their own faces or the faces of those who have given consent for such searches, reports The New York Times (subscription required) .

PimEyes has become very popular as a facial recognition search engine, which helps people find photos of themselves that have been posted online, in just seconds. The site captures results from blogs, news articles, wedding photo galleries, review sites, or porn sites, but not social media sites.

PimEyes, which has changed hands since its inception in 2017, is now embroiled in controversy over how photo searches are conducted on the site. Indeed, there would be no specific or strong control mechanism put in place by the company to regulate the photo search process.

The article cites the example of Cher Scarlett, a computer engineer who faced a bitter experience a few months ago, after finding photos of herself in circumstances she may not have liked. -be not remember: photos from a porn audition scene involving Scarlett years ago.

A search on PimEyes brought up the photos, with Scarlett saying she hadn’t the faintest imagination that they could be anywhere on the internet.

She says that as part of efforts to find a way to remove these photos from the net, she had to subscribe to PimEyes’ “PROtect plans” where users can get unwanted photos removed from external links with the assistance of the PimEyes support service. This also didn’t solve his problem, as the photos kept showing up in subsequent searches. Plus, it costs between $90 and $300 a month, leading Scarlett to call it “extortion.”

In response to this, however, Gobronidze told The Times that the site is built with other tools that can allow users to prevent their photos from appearing on the website’s photo search index. Here he mentions a free tool that can be used to remove search results from the PimEyes index, as well as an “opt-out” feature that allows data to be removed from the site, including search results for images facials they wish to remove. .

Scarlett eventually opted out and received an email from PimEyes in April that said “Your potential results containing your face are being removed from our system.”

Despite this, The Times reveals that it attempted a search for Scarlett’s face weeks later and found around 100 search results with her photos, including some from the porn audition scene.

Gobronidze, in reaction to this, argues that the ‘opt-out’ option does not prevent face search, but rather blocks photos with a high level of similarity from PimEyes’ search result index. For this reason, in a blog post about the unsubscribe feature, the company advises those using it to submit “several unsubscribe requests with different photos.”

The company says more protections are being developed, but that will take time.

Amid this, biometrics experts say they think PimEyes needs to do more than it currently does to enforce the ethical use of the facial recognition website, likely by requiring researchers to identify themselves either with government-issued IDs or via biometrics.

In an email response to Biometric Update on this topic, John Gunn, CEO of Token, a biometric identification technology provider, wrote: “It is utterly misleading for PimEyes to claim that they are doing their best to limit searches to only the person requesting the search. . They could simply require users to submit their driver’s license, passport, or other photo ID, verify it with a digital identity assurance provider such as Mitek or Jumio, and then use their own technology to limit the search.

Gunn, whose expertise also includes wearable device innovation and experience in digital identity, fraud prevention, and identity and access management, adds, “If banks can lend thousands dollars on a simple photo ID, PimEyes can easily adopt this inexpensive technology as well. Their current approach calls for government intervention and regulation.

PimEyes announced the launch of an affiliate program this month in an effort to increase awareness of its facial recognition service.

Article topics

biometric identification | biometrics | commercial applications | facial biometrics | face photo | facial recognition | PimEyes | confidentiality | Token