人脸搜索引擎准得吓人 美媒记者:我都不知道自己拍过这些照片

科技 6个月前 网易科技
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5月28日消息,因擅自收集人脸图像,面部识别创企Clearview AI最近引发了很大争议,但与名为PimEyes的付费人脸搜索引擎相比,Clearview AI就像小巫见大巫。PimEyes的搜索准得惊人,而且只需几秒钟就能识别出图片中的人物身份。

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PimEyes每月收费29.99美元,它拥有类似来自科幻世界的超能力,即通过扫描人脸在互联网上寻找相似的图片,并提供包含图片的链接。每次搜索只需要几秒钟。《纽约时报》在征得十几位记者的同意后,利用PimEyes扫描了他们的脸部以测试其能力。

匹配速度超快 准确率惊人

PimEyes几乎发现了每个人的照片,有些甚至是这些记者本人以前从未见过的,即使他们戴着太阳镜或口罩,或者他们的脸未对准镜头的情况。PimEyes发现一位记者十年前在艺术博物馆的活动中跳舞、在被求婚后哭泣的照片。尽管她本人并不喜欢这张照片,但摄影师却私自决定用它在Yelp上打广告。

在2011年的Coachella音乐节上,一名科技记者在一群尴尬的粉丝中发现了年轻时的自己。一名外国记者出现在无数的婚纱照中,显然他非常喜欢派对。一名记者过去在摇滚乐队的生活被挖掘出来,另一名记者更喜欢夏令营度假的爱好也被曝光。

但与仅适用于执法部门的类似面部识别工具Clearview AI不同,PimEyes不包括来自社交媒体网站的搜索结果。PimEyes有时会展示令人意想不到的图片,它们来自新闻报道、婚礼摄影网页、评论网站、博客或者成人网站。这十几位记者的面部都被准确匹配出来。对于女性来说,错误的照片往往来自成人网站,这让人感到不安。

一位要求匿名的科技高管说,他经常使用PimEyes,主要是为了识别在推特上骚扰他的人,并在他们的账户上确认他们的真实照片。另一位要求匿名的PimEyes用户表示,他使用该工具从成人电影中识别女演员的真实身份,并搜索Facebook上朋友的性感照片。

PimEyes的新老板是34岁的大学教授吉奥吉·戈布罗尼泽(Giorgi Gobronidze),他相信PimEyes可以成为一种向善的工具,帮助人们保护自己的网络声誉。例如,不喜欢摄影师使用其照片的记者现在可以要求后者从Yelp页面上删除其被求婚照片。

戈布罗尼泽说,PimEyes的用户应该只搜索自己或同意被搜索的人的面部图片。但他表示,他只寄希望于人们“以合乎道德规范的方式”行事,而且对该技术侵犯人们保持匿名的能力无能为力。PimEyes没有任何控制措施来防止用户搜索其他人的面部图像,并建议用户支付高额费用,以防止夜晚拍摄的、可能具有负面影响的照片被曝光。

隐私倡导组织“欧洲数字权利组织”的政策顾问埃拉·雅库博夫斯卡(Ella Jakubowska)说:“不管怎么辩解,PimEyes无疑就是故意设计的跟踪软件。”

大学教授接手有争议公司

戈布罗尼泽于2014年开始了自己的教授生涯,在格鲁吉亚的欧洲大学任教。2017年,他参加了一个交流项目,在波兰的一所大学讲课。当时,他的一个学生把他介绍给了两个“黑客”类型的人,即卢卡斯·科瓦尔奇克(Lucasz Kowalczyk)和丹尼斯·塔蒂纳(Denis Tatina),他们当时正在研究面部搜索引擎。

戈布罗尼泽说,科瓦尔奇克和塔蒂纳同意在他的学术研究中探讨他们的发明,这最终成为了PimEyes。两人解释了他们的搜索引擎如何使用神经网络技术来映射人脸的特征,以便将其与具有相似尺寸的人脸进行匹配,并且该程序能够随着时间的推移学习如何更好地进行匹配。戈布罗尼泽称:“当我首次听说这种技术时,感觉自己就像来自石器时代,就像在读科幻小说。”

戈布罗尼泽与两位创始人保持联系,并目睹了PimEyes开始在媒体上获得越来越多的关注。2020年,PimEyes声称换了老板,公司总部也从波兰迁至塞舌尔。去年的某个时候,戈布罗尼泽“听说”PimEyes正在出售。于是,他迅速筹集资金并提出了收购要约,但他不愿透露其最终到底花了多少钱。

去年12月,戈布罗尼泽创建了名为EMEARobotics的公司,收购了PimEyes,并将其注册在迪拜,因为阿联酋的税率很低。戈布罗尼泽保留了PimEyes的大部分技术和支持团队,并在伯利兹聘请了咨询公司来处理咨询和监管问题。如今,戈布罗尼泽成了商人,并拥一家充满争议的公司,他希望打造一个任何人都可以使用面部识别技术的世界。

“本质上是在敲诈勒索”

几个月前,计算机工程师雪儿·斯嘉丽(Cher Scarlett)首次尝试了PimEyes,但她找到的却是自己努力想要忘记的记忆。2005年,当19岁的斯嘉丽破产时,她曾考虑从事**工作。她前往纽约参加了试镜,但最终放弃了这个想法。

PimEyes发现了斯嘉丽的这段经历,并提供了相关链接,可以在网上找到她的露骨照片。斯嘉丽致力于维护劳工权益方面的工作,并因她在苹果领导的一场备受瞩目的罢工而成为媒体报道的对象。她说:“在那之前,我根本不知道这些照片已经被上传到网上。”

由于担心人们对这些图片产生负面反应,斯嘉丽立即开始研究如何删除它们。当她在PimEyes上点击其中一张照片时,会弹出一个菜单,其中提供了包含该图片的链接、一个指向该图片所在网站的链接,以及一个在PimEyes上“从公开结果中删除”的选项。

但斯嘉丽很快发现,只有支付每月89.99美元到299.99美元“保护计划”费用的订户才能享受删除照片服务。斯嘉丽说,“这本质上是在敲诈勒索”,但她最终不得不付钱。戈布罗尼泽不同意这种指控。他辩解称,PimEyes索引中有个免费工具,可以删除网站上没有显著广告效果的结果。他还提供了一张收据,显示PimEyes已于上月向斯嘉丽退还了299.99美元的费用。

戈布罗尼泽说,PimEyes有数以万计的订户,该网站的访问者大多来自美国和欧洲。它的大部分收入来自其保护服务的订户。PimEyes也有免费的“选择退出”功能,人们可以从网站上删除自己的数据,包括他们面部的搜索图像。为了退出,斯嘉丽提供了自己十几岁时的照片,并扫描了自己的身份证。4月初,她确认自己的选择退出请求已被接受。

PimEyes在电子邮件中写道:“包含你的脸部的潜在搜索结果将从我们的系统中删除。”但一个月后,《纽约时报》在得到斯嘉丽允许的情况下,对她的脸部图片进行了PimEyes搜索,得到了100多个结果,其中包括那些露骨的照片。

戈布罗尼泽说,这是个“令人遗憾的结果”,选择退出并不能阻止某个人的脸部继续被搜索。取而代之的是,它只会从PimEyes的搜索结果中屏蔽任何在选择退出时“具有很高相似度”的面部照片,这意味着如果人们希望远离PimEyes搜索,他们需要定期选择退出,并需要提交自己的更多照片。

戈布罗尼泽说,删除露骨照片尤其棘手,他把它们在网上扩散的趋势比作神话中的九头蛇。他说:“砍掉一个头,就会出现另外两个头。”戈布罗尼泽希望人们以“符合道德规范”的方式使用PimEyes,这意味着要求人们只搜索自己而非陌生人的面部图片。

但PimEyes几乎没能实现整个目标,只是搜索者必须点击一个选框,声称上传的面部照片属于本人。康奈尔大学研究隐私的教授海伦·尼森鲍姆(Helen Nissenbaum)称此举“过于荒谬”,除非该网站有搜索者提供的政府身份证明,就像斯嘉丽选择退出时那样,否则根本无效。

尼森鲍姆还说:“如果这么做有效,想知道我们自己的面部图片在哪里,我们必须确保提供这项服务的公司将是透明和经过审计的。”然而,PimEyes显然不会进行这样的审计,不过戈布罗尼泽表示,该网站会禁止“不符合逻辑”的搜索活动,比如1天搜索超过1000次显然不正常。

戈布罗尼泽依靠用户自己去做正确的事情,并警告任何未经许可搜查他人面部图片的人都违反了欧洲隐私法。他说:“这应该是使用者的责任,而我们只是一个工具供应商。”

斯嘉丽称,她从来没有想过会公开谈论自己19岁时发生的事情,但在意识到照片已被上传网络后,她觉得自己必须做点儿什么。她称:“这些照片会被用来对付我。我很高兴自己是首先发现它们的人,但对我来说,这更多的是因为运气,而不是PimEyes的举措生效。”

规则与例外

尽管戈布罗尼泽说PimEyes只能用于搜索用户自己的面部图片,但他对其他用途持开放态度,只要它们“合乎道德规范”即可。他说,他赞成调查记者使用PimEyes帮助识别2021年1月6日袭击美国国会大厦的嫌疑人。

《纽约时报》允许其记者使用人脸识别搜索引擎进行报道,但对这种做法有内部规定。该报发言人称:“每项使用面部识别工具进行报道的请求都需要事先得到相关负责人和我们法务部门高级成员的审查和批准,以确保使用符合我们的标准和相关法律。”

德国一家数据保护机构去年宣布对PimEyes展开调查,原因是其可能违反了欧洲隐私法,即《通用数据保护条例》,其中包括有关使用生物特征数据的严格规则。这项调查仍在继续。戈布罗尼泽说,他没有收到任何德国监管机构的消息,但“渴望回答他们可能会提出的任何问题”。

戈布罗尼泽说,他不担心隐私监管机构的调查,因为PimEyes的运营方式不同。他称PimEyes就像数字卡片目录,它并不存储照片或个人面部模板,而是存储与它们所包含面部特征相关联的个人图像URL。他说,这一切都是公开的,而且PimEyes提醒用户只搜索自己的面部照片。不过,这种说法是否能说服监管机构仍有待确定。(小小)

PimEyes, which costs $29.99 a month, has a superpower similar to that from the sci-fi world, which scans faces to find similar images on the Internet and provides links containing them. Each search takes only a few seconds. With the consent of more than a dozen journalists, the New York Times used PimEyes to scan their faces to test their abilities.

The matching speed is super fast and the accuracy is amazing.

PimEyes found pictures of almost everyone, some of which the journalists themselves had never seen before, even if they were wearing sunglasses or masks, or their faces were not aimed at the camera. PimEyes found a photo of a journalist dancing at an art museum event ten years ago and crying after being proposed. Although she didn't like the photo herself, the photographer privately decided to use it to advertise on Yelp.

At the Coachella Music Festival in 2011, a technology journalist found himself as a young man among a group of embarrassed fans. A foreign journalist appeared in countless wedding photos, and he obviously likes parties very much. One journalist's past life in a rock band has been unearthed, and another reporter's preference for summer camp holidays has also been exposed.

But unlike Clearview AI, a similar facial recognition tool that applies only to law enforcement, PimEyes does not include search results from social media sites. PimEyes sometimes displays unexpected pictures from news reports, wedding photography pages, comment sites, blogs or adult websites. The faces of more than a dozen journalists were accurately matched. For women, the wrong photos often come from adult websites, which is disturbing.

One technology executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he often uses PimEyes, mainly to identify people who harass him on Twitter and to confirm their real photos on their accounts. Another PimEyes user, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he used the tool to identify actresses from adult movies and search for sexy photos of their friends on Facebook.

PimEyes's new boss, Giorgi Gobronidze, a 34-year-old university professor, believes PimEyes can be a good tool to help people protect their online reputation. For example, journalists who don't like photographers using their photos can now ask them to delete their proposed photos from the Yelp page.

'users of PimEyes should only search for pictures of themselves or the faces of people who agree to be searched, 'Mr. Gobronizer said. But he said he only hoped that people would act "in an ethical way" and that there was nothing he could do about the technology infringing on people's ability to remain anonymous. PimEyes does not have any controls to prevent users from searching for other people's facial images and recommends that users pay high fees to prevent exposure of photos taken at night that may have a negative impact.

"No matter how you defend it, PimEyes is definitely deliberately designed tracking software," said Ella Jakubowska, a policy adviser for the privacy advocacy group European Digital Rights.

University professors take over disputed companies

Gobronize began his professorship in 2014, teaching at European universities in Georgia. In 2017, he participated in an exchange program and lectured at a university in Poland. At the time, one of his students introduced him to two "hacker" types, Lucas Kowalchik (Lucasz Kowalczyk) and Dennis Tatina (Denis Tatina), who were working on facial search engines.

Kovalchik and Tatina agreed to discuss their inventions in his academic research, which eventually became PimEyes, Gobbronize said. The two men explained how their search engines used neural network technology to map facial features to match faces of similar size, and the program could learn how to match better over time. "when I first heard about this technology, I felt like I was from the Stone Age, like I was reading science fiction," Gobronizer said. "

Gobronize kept in touch with the two founders and watched PimEyes begin to get more and more attention in the media. In 2020, PimEyes claimed to have changed its boss and moved its headquarters from Poland to the Seychelles. Sometime last year, Gobronize "heard" that PimEyes was for sale. So he quickly raised money and made an offer, but he would not say how much it cost in the end.

In December, Gobronize founded a company called EMEARobotics, acquired PimEyes and registered it in Dubai because of the low tax rate in the United Arab Emirates. Gobronize retained most of PimEyes's technical and support team and hired a consulting firm in Belize to handle consulting and regulatory issues. Now a businessman and owner of a controversial company, Gobronize wants to build a world where anyone can use facial recognition technology.

"it's essentially blackmail."

A few months ago, computer engineer Cher Scarlett (Cher Scarlett) first tried PimEyes, but what she found were memories she was trying to forget. In 2005, when 19-year-old Scarlett went bankrupt, she considered working for the government. She went to New York for an audition, but eventually gave up the idea.

PimEyes discovered Scarlett's experience and provided links to find explicit photos of her online. Scarlett is committed to labor rights and has become the subject of media coverage for a high-profile strike she led at Apple. "until then, I had no idea that these photos had been uploaded online," she said. "

Fearing that people would react negatively to the pictures, Scarlett immediately began to study how to delete them. When she clicks on one of the photos on PimEyes, a menu pops up with a link to the image, a link to the website where the picture is located, and an option to "remove from public results" on PimEyes.

But Scarlett soon discovered that only subscribers who pay $89.99 to $299.99 a month for a "protection plan" can enjoy the photo deletion service. "it was essentially racketeering," Scarlett said, but she eventually had to pay. Gobronize disagrees with the accusation. He argues that there is a free tool in the PimEyes index that removes results from websites that do not have significant advertising effects. He also provided a receipt showing that PimEyes had refunded $299.99 to Scarlett last month.

PimEyes has tens of thousands of subscribers, and visitors to the site are mostly from the United States and Europe, Mr. Gobronizer said. Most of its revenue comes from subscribers to its protection services. PimEyes also has a free "opt out" feature that allows people to delete their own data from the site, including search images of their faces. To quit, Scarlett provided photos of herself as a teenager and scanned her ID card. In early April, she confirmed that her opt-out request had been accepted.

"potential search results containing your face will be removed from our system," PimEyes wrote in an email. " But a month later, the New York Times, with Scarlett's permission, conducted a PimEyes search on her face and got more than 100 results, including the explicit ones.

Gobronize said it was a "regrettable result" and that opting out did not stop someone's face from continuing to be searched. Instead, it only blocks any facial photos that are "highly similar" when opting out from PimEyes search results, which means that if people want to stay away from PimEyes search, they need to opt out regularly and submit more photos of themselves.

'deleting explicit photos is particularly tricky, 'Mr. Gobronize said, comparing the trend of their spread online to the mythical Hydra. "if you cut off one head, there will be two other heads," he said. " Gobronize wants people to use PimEyes in an "ethical" way, which means asking people to search only their own faces rather than strangers' faces.

But PimEyes barely achieved its entire goal, except that searchers had to click on a box to claim that the uploaded facial photos belonged to them. Helen Nissenbaum, a professor of privacy at Cornell University, called the move "ridiculous" and was invalid unless the site had a government ID provided by the searcher, as Scarlett did when she opted out.

"if this works and we want to know where our own facial images are, we have to make sure that the companies that provide the service will be transparent and audited," Nisenbaum said. " However, it is clear that PimEyes will not conduct such an audit, but Mr Gobronizer said it was clearly not normal for the site to ban "illogical" searches, such as more than 1000 searches a day.

Gobronize relies on users to do the right thing and warns that anyone who searches other people's faces without permission violates European privacy laws. "this should be the responsibility of the user, and we are just a tool supplier," he said. "

Scarlett said she never thought she would talk publicly about what happened when she was 19, but after realizing that the photos had been uploaded online, she felt she had to do something. "these photos will be used against me," she said. I'm glad I was the one who found them in the first place, but for me, it's more about luck than the effectiveness of PimEyes's actions. "

Rules and exceptions

Although Gobronize said PimEyes can only be used to search users' own facial images, he is open to other uses, as long as they are "ethical." He said he approved the use of PimEyes by investigative journalists to help identify suspects in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The New York Times allows its reporters to use face recognition search engines to report, but there are internal rules for this practice. A spokesman for the newspaper said: "every request for reporting using facial recognition tools needs to be reviewed and approved in advance by the relevant responsible persons and senior members of our legal department to ensure that the use conforms to our standards and relevant laws."

A German data protection agency announced an investigation into PimEyes last year on the grounds that it may have violated European privacy laws, the General data Protection regulations, which include strict rules on the use of biometric data. The investigation is continuing. Mr. Gobronize said he had not received any news from German regulators, but was "eager to answer any questions they might ask."

Mr. Gobronize said he was not worried about the privacy regulator's investigation because PimEyes operates differently. He called PimEyes like a digital card catalog, which does not store photos or personal facial templates, but the URL of personal images associated with the facial features they contain. 'it 's all public, and PimEyes reminds users to search only their own facial photos,'he said. However, it remains to be seen whether this argument will convince regulators. (small)

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