Pimeyes is an image search operator that allows to find pictures of any person on the internet based on an uploaded picture, shot taken directly from the camera, or linked photo.
The search operator promotes its services as a privacy tool to better protect yourself online by finding unwanted pictures.
It will display all possible results and partially obfuscate the links of the source.
The company will display the full source and monitor if your picture is being posted online without your knowledge for a monthly fee. Additionally, you can opt for the deletion services provided by their agent.
The inquiries led the service to temporarily block the wider search and API, by only allowing self-taken camera pictures search.
Since the outcry time has passed and Pimeyes promotes new ownership, better search capability, broader database and is back with full functionality.
First, it’s essential to have a short recap of how the company was set up and changed during the years. Additionally, the nezpolitik article is an excellent place to go for a better context of previous denunciations.
Since the company advocates its services as a privacy tool with new ownership, it should face additional scrutiny to determine if the new context addresses previous concerns.
Today, privacy policies are a fantastic way to start such scrutiny since they need to disclose the data controller.
Pimeyes privacy policies 2017-2020
2018: Pimeyes becomes a formal company registered as Pimeyes sp z o.o. a limited liability company. The managing partners are Mr. Kowalczyk and Mr. Tatina.
2020: Pimeyes sp. z o.o. starts its liquidation process in 31.08.2020.
The new owner of Pimeys is Face Recognition Solutions Ltd., with its registered seat in House of Francis, Room 303, Ile Du Port, Mahe, Seychelles.
Face Recognition Solution is an offshore company registered in Seychelles.
The country is very appealing to set an offshore company due to several reasons:
- There is no public register of company officers.
- Privacy of the offshore companies is protected in Seychelles under Art. 20 of the constitution
- You need minimum 1 director/shareholder.
- International business company registered in the country is exempt from any form of taxation and withholding taxes in Seychelles.
Therefore, identifying the “new owner/owners” can be troublesome due to the lack of available information.
Even finding the real address is difficult since the one provided leads to nowhere.
Seychelles. --> Country Mahe--> Main island Ile Du Port--> Artificial island House of Francis --> Could not be identified Room 303 --> Could not be identified
Since the search in Seychelles is limited, let’s go back to the two previous owners and creators of the services.
In Poland, you can look into business registers in two places.
KRS the National Court Register and the Central Register and Information on Economic Activity (CEIDG) operated by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Republic of Poland.
In the KRS, one can find that Pimeye sp z o.o. is being liquidated, yet in the CEIDG, both Mr. Kowalczyk and Mr. Tatina are still active in the domain of software services.
When registering a company in the CEIDG register, you need to choose specific codes that would reflect your essential services. These are the codes provided by the two former managing directors.
- 62.01 Activities related to software
- 63.12 Activities of internet portals
- 74.20 Photography activities
- 62.02 Activities related to consultancy in the field of computer science
- 62.03 Activities associated with the management of IT devices
- 62.09 Other service activities in the area of information and computer technologies
- 63.11 data processing; website management (hosting) and similar activities
- 63.12 Activities of internet portals
- 73.12 Agency in the sale of advertising space in electronic media (Internet)
One can assume that both Mr. Kowalczyk and Tatina are still involved in the search tool’s development and support and set up the company in Seychelles to avoid penalties and further scrutiny.
Another point that lowers the trust in the company is the fake pictures used for testimonials.
Fake testimonials are a recurrent trend in any online business. What is particular of Pimeyes is that they use images of people that do not exist to psychologically raise the level of trustworthiness.
These are computer-generated pictures that are easily created with services like thispersondoeasnotexist.com. One can verify the photo’s origin by quickly switching from one testimonial image to another. Doing so will show that the eyes are in the same spot. The face also covers proportionally similar areas.
The pictures of those people are not to be found anywhere on the internet. Even with Pimeyes services, and maybe this was an ingenious marketing stunt that aimed to attract people into buying its services.
Lack of transparency and marketing tricks of Pimeyes is discerning.
Pimeyes, with its new or same owner/s and different legal accountability, continue to develop and sell technology that makes privacy harder for the less aware or tech-savvy.
The tool can be used for good and harmful activities.
One can use the tool for OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) investigations, private concerns, and personal privacy gains. On the other hand, it also lowers the bar for misuses from people with bad intentions, leading to stalking and revenge porn.
Ultimately people are responsible for their actions and not the tools.
Yet tools like Pimeyes allow a higher adoption for bad intentions while evading scrutiny and accountability.
As a technology provider with similar solutions to be trustworthy, you need to have better transparency and create several internal controls that protect both the company and the users. Such controls might be non-public searches, client verification, a transparent support line with a formal process for disputes, and inquiries that mitigate users’ malevolence.
But controls cost and need to be managed daily by people. They would lower the income of platforms like Pimeyes, which seem to look only at a maximum profit with minimum accountability.