PimEyes scrapes and uses non-consensual, explicit photos

Occurred: May 2022

Facial recognition search engine PimEyes was found to have scraped and used sexually explicit photographs of a user, which she was then unable to have removed from its system.

In February 2022, Cher Scarlett discovered that PimEyes surfaced pornographic photos of herself that had been taken when she was a teenager, unexpectedly forcing her to re-live an unpleasant period of her life. 

However, Sca tried and failed to have the images removed from the system's search results, despite the site promising to scrub images of her from its database under its Open Plus plan.

PimEyes director Giorgi Gobronidze responded: 'The problem isn’t that there is a search engine that can find these photos; the problem is there are the photos and there are people who actually uploaded and did it on purpose.'

The incident highlighted PimEyes' was promising more than it could deliver, and drew attention to the inaccessibility of its opt-out form. It also showed how easily facial recognition technology can lead to unexpected harms that may be impossible to undo, CNN observed.

Operator: Cher Scarlett
Developer: PimEyes
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Identify individuals
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Governance; Privacy
Transparency: Governance