At this point, even we are shocked at how often new technology is unveiled that seems designed to put others in danger.
Friends, meet PimEyes. Now, anyone can take your picture with their phone and upload it to a search engine that will help them find out exactly who you are. And that answer is delivered in seconds.
Created in Poland, you can now use PimEyes with TikTok. And of course, it’s free, because that’s how much your privacy and security are worth.
Law enforcement has used facial recognition technology for years, but this is something else. It’s a facial recognition search engine – and everyone can use it.
Will It Work On You?
Probably, though it depends on how many photos of you are accessible online. Do you like to upload family photos to social media, or take lots of selfies? Then PimEyes will find you quickly. What about other photos you didn’t take, but in which you appear? School class pictures, crowd photos at events, pictures people take of their friends in which you might be in the background? What about security cameras in stores and other locales?
Can You Opt Out? Maybe
TikTok users report that an opt-out option is available that will stop PimEyes from adding your photos to their database. Yet, tests of the search tool show that it is not always a guaranteed way of removing oneself from the company's huge photo archive.
“Please Use Responsibly” (wink, wink)
How could a company offer and promote a technology that invades the privacy of strangers, and could make them the target of a stalker or an angry ex?
First, they’ll point to TikTok guidelines that ban content with personal information that can lead to stalking or identity theft. But nothing will be done until someone reports the violation, and even then it might take weeks or more before any action is taken.
There is also a “rule” that people should only search for themselves, or for those who consent to a search. Does anyone enforce that rule? Of course not.
Finally, they’ll say that the photos they show you from your search will not include the name of the subject. But with all that visual evidence one does not need to be Sherlock Holmes to fill in any blanks.
But the company is not without a heart. PimEyes is blocked in more than 25 countries, including Russia and Iran, to prevent its misuse in targeting dissidents and protesters. Here in the USA, you are fair game.
Even Google Draws a Line
Google, despite its less-than-perfect privacy record, developed similar technology years ago but opted not to release it due to privacy concerns. But now that one version has made it to the marketplace, others will follow.
At this point, nothing short of an outright ban at the federal level will have any effect. Legislation restricting facial recognition technology in public spaces is now working its way through government channels throughout Europe, where protecting the security and privacy of private citizens has always been a greater priority than it is in America. That level of protection may never happen here.
What You Can Do
First, follow the opt-out procedure provided by TikTok. It’s not enough but it’s a start. Next, since you can’t go back and delete all the photos of you that may be in virtual and perpetual circulation, take whatever steps you can to limit how anyone could use that photo to find out your home address, phone number of other personal details.
We can help with that. IronWall360 online privacy protection removes identifying information about you from the Internet.
Our clients also have access to easy-to-use tools that mask your phone and email, as well as your online browsing and search history. With those preventative measures in place, PimEyes may still know what you look like, but won’t know where you live, or give strangers a means to contact you.