Face search engine PimEyes blocks searches of children’s faces

PimEyes, a subscription-based service that uses facial recognition technology to find online photos of a person, has a database of nearly three billion faces and enables about 118,000 searches per day, according to Mr. Gobronidze. The service is advertised as a way for people to search for their own face to find any unknown photos on the internet, but there are no technical measures in place to ensure that users are searching only for themselves.

Parents have used PimEyes to find photos of their children on the internet that they had not known about. But the service could also be used nefariously by a stranger. It had previously banned more than 200 accounts for inappropriate searches of children’s faces, Mr. Gobronidze said.

I’ll make it quite simple.

No child should have their photo searched and tracked without consent. Facial recognition technology already represents an invasion of privacy, but the ability to search for photos of specific individuals takes this to another level. Children deserve safeguards to protect their privacy and prevent unwanted surveillance.

Stronger oversight and regulation of companies like PimEyes is needed. Banning a mere 200 accounts for inappropriate searches of children is nowhere near sufficient. Rigorous rules must be established to prevent misuse of facial recognition services when it comes to identifying and tracking children.

The onus cannot be only on companies to self-police. We know that’s not going to be enough. It will increasingly become the role and responsibility of Governments to step in to enact laws that prioritize child protection in the use of AI. Companies that fail to uphold strong standards should face penalties. Our children's privacy and safety must take priority.

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