A new facial recognition search engine called PimEyes is causing controversy for its potential to be used for surveillance and stalking. The website allows users to upload a photo of a person and search for other photos of that same person online.
PimEyes claims to be a service that can help people monitor their online presence, but privacy experts are concerned about the potential for the technology to be misused. For example, government and private companies could deploy the technology to profile or surveil people in public.
PimEyes scans a face in a photo and crawls dark corners of the internet to surface photos many people didn’t even know existed of themselves in the background of restaurants or attending a concert.
While the company claims it is a service that can help people monitor their online presence, it has generated controversy for its use as a surveillance tool for stalkers, collecting countless images of children, and for adding images of dead people to its database without permission.
In the European Union, lawmakers are debating a ban on facial recognition technology in public spaces. In the United States, there are laws in some parts of the country that give people protection over how their face is scanned and used by private companies. However, until there is federal regulation, how and where faces are recorded by private companies is nearly unrestricted.
Privacy experts are also concerned about the potential for facial recognition search engines to be used to track and monitor people without their consent.
The sources for this piece include an article in NPR.