PimEyes is a site that allows you to upload an image of a face and search for it in the sea of Internet content by analyzing its biometric data. Precisely because biometric data of the face are used, PimEyes manages to find the faces of people who, if they are the latter, are portrayed in images other than the one loaded. There are subscriptions to ask sites to delete the photos, but PimEyes can also be used as stalkerware: a photo of a boy or girl is enough to understand who he is, provided that this photo has appeared on the internet.
You can find your face everywhere
PimEyes allows you to upload photos for free to search and find out which site it has been stored on, but it serves more than anything else to entice users to take the next step, because the information obtained is limited, and the addresses are obscured. A bit like the software that promises to recover files from cards: they show you that they work, but then you have to pay.
PimEyes is the same, it works incredibly well but they serve 35.99 euros per month to do 25 daily searches and know the complete address of the site where the image was uploaded, in order to be able to trace the identity of the person. With the PROtect subscription from € 94.99 per month you also have a team of experts available for 4 hours a month to help the user remove photos from the internet. Plus, with subscriptions, searches get deeper.
Unlike Clearview AI, the similar facial recognition tool available only to law enforcement, PimEyes doesn’t include results from social media, but it’s still borderline.
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Go to the deepening
Some New York Times reporters have agreed to search for themselves through PimEyes. The results drew old images that were sometimes considered embarrassing: a journalist found a photo of her from 10 years ago in which she was dancing at a museum event and another in which she cried after receiving a marriage proposal.
We also tried and, unlike the results obtained with Google Images, which return images similar to the one uploaded, PimEyes went to find the person portrayed on the Internet, or the one who looks like him, even in different photos. A photo of us appeared correctly in a small box belonging to an image taken from the iPadOS 15 test.
Obviously, nothing prevents you from searching with PimEyes for people other than the user who is using it. In this case PimEyes could be considered a stalkerware, that is a software with the purpose of persecutory harassment or more simply that facilitates the obtaining of private information about other people.
PimEyes says the search is done on public content, however, if you upload faces of women, the results offer a lot of pornographic content of actresses similar to the person uploaded: with the possibility therefore of threatening someone by passing off the photo of another person in sexual attitudes.
PimEyes investigated for breach of the GDPR
In 2021 the German agency for data protection and freedom of information in Baden-Württemberg, started an investigation into PimEyes because, according to the GDPR, it is forbidden to use biometric data to uniquely identify natural persons.
Bought by a Georgian international relations academician after two of her students conceived it, PimEyes was then acquired by a buyer who wanted to remain anonymous and fled Europe to move its headquarters to Dubai and the team of advice and support in Belize.
PimEyes says it does not store the photos and that they are available on public sites. In a blog post he wrote: “PimEyes only provides one tool, which the user is required to use responsibly. Anyone can buy a hammer, and anyone can make crafts with this tool, or kill.”
He then specified: “If PimEyes started to verify each user and compare them with the data they searched for, it could turn the company into a monster that stores not only the personal and biometric data of each subscriber, but also the material that in most cases they would like to leave. Reserved.”
In the meantime, another site similar to PimEyes has appeared. It’s called Public Mirror, it still has its headquarters in Europe and was investigated by the privacy agency of Baden-Württemberg in 2021 at the same time as PimEyes.