A face search engine that anyone can use is alarmingly accurate

But PimEyes does little to enforce this goal, beyond a box a researcher has to click to claim the loaded face is his. Helen Nissenbaum, a Cornell University professor who studies privacy, called this “absurd,” unless the site had a researcher providing government identification, as Ms. Scarlett had to do when she gave up.

“If it’s a useful thing to do, to see where our faces are, we have to imagine that a company that only offers that service will be transparent and controlled,” Ms. Nissenbaum said.

PimEyes does not perform such checks, although Gobronidze said the site would prevent a user from searching “beyond anything logical”, describing as an example one with more than 1,000 searches in a day. He relies on users to do what’s right and has claimed that anyone who raids someone else’s face without permission would be in breach of European privacy law.

“It should be the responsibility of the person using it,” he said. “We are just an instrument supplier.”

Ms. Scarlett said she never thought she would talk publicly about what happened to her when she was 19, but she felt she had to after realizing the pictures were out there.

“It would have been used against me,” he said. “I’m happy to be the person who found them, but for me it’s more luck than PimEyes working as intended. It shouldn’t exist at all. “

Despite stating that PimEyes should only be used for personal research, Mr. Gobronidze is open to other uses as long as they are “ethical”. He said he approved of investigative reporters and the role played by PimEyes identify Americans which stormed the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The Times allows its reporters to use facial recognition search engines for reports, but has internal rules on the practice. “Any request to use a facial recognition tool for reporting purposes requires review and prior approval by a senior member of the masthead and our legal department to ensure use complies with our standards and applicable law.” Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha said.

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