Clearview stole my face and the EU can’t do anything about it
Technically, Pimeyes is different from Clearview because it doesn’t store faces in a database but instead searches the internet for faces when users upload photos, according to privacy experts. The platform is also much more open; Anyone can search the site for free, although to see the links where the photos are found they have to pay a monthly fee starting at $36.
The company’s CEO, a professor named Giorgi Gobronidze, also emphasized that unlike Clearview, Pimeyes does not collect data on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter or VKontakte (VK). “The fact that we can theoretically collect data on social does not mean we should,” said Gobronidze, who bought the platform late last year. Instead, Gobronidze says Pimeyes makes the Internet more transparent. “There are thousands of people who don’t know their images are being used by various online sources,” he said. “And in fact, they have a right to know.”
For those who don’t want to know, Gobronidze says it’s very easy to remove their faces from his website. “[People] may submit an opt-out request, or they may request removal of a certain photo and block further processing with one click, below each free search result. ” Marx said, although Pimeyes has an official headquarters outside the EU, in Belize, the company should never have used his image in the first place. “This company will only be allowed to use your biometric data with your express consent.”
Pimeyes has caused controversy before. After a series of articles criticizing its privacy policies in 2020, its previous owners, entrepreneurs Łukasz Kowalczyk and Denis Tatina, decided to sell. But the two men did not disappear from the industry. Instead, according to the company’s records in Poland, they return as the owners of a new face search engine called Public Mirror, targeting the public relations industry. One thing Pimeyes and Public Mirror have in common is the face of Marx.
In March of this year, Marx discovered that Public Mirror had four pictures of his face in its profile. Like other face search engines, not only the photos themselves reveal information about Marx, but also the online links that go with them. Public Mirror links act like a directory to media articles written about Marx or conferences where he has spoken.
Each of these platforms reveals deeply personal information. Marx said: “You may know where I studied, which political party I like. Together, the photos these companies have collected of him point to an industry that reveals more information than any social media profile.
When Marx started pulling back on the subject in 2020, all he wanted was a company to stop collecting photos of his face. Now it’s bigger than that. Today, he urges regulators to stop the industry from collecting images of Europeans altogether. For that to happen, regulators will have to give an example of Clearview. The question is, can they?