PimEyes scrapes facial images from social media platforms

Occurred: June 2020-August 2020

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Facial recognition search engine PimEyes came under fire for processing photographs scraped from major social media platforms. 

A report (in English, German) by digital rights organisation Netzpolitik discovered that PimEyes regularly scraped content from Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Russian social network vKontakte - a claim that a PimEyes spokeperson said was untrue. The report prompted some social media companies to send legal demands that PimEyes stop using their data.

The incident raised questions about the legality of PimEyes under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, and the danger it poses from stalkers and other people misusing it. It also resulted in questions about the implications for individual name and image rights, and a call for a moratorium on commercial facial recognition systems in the European Parliament.


Operator: Daniel Laufer, Sebastian Meineck
Developer: PimEyes
Country: Germany
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Identify individuals
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Governance; Privacy
Transparency: Governance