Berlin (dpa) - Politicians from government and opposition in the German Bundestag have demanded the regulation of a Polish start-up company that operates a search engine for faces on the Internet.

According to research by the netzpolitik.org portal, the search engine PimEyes is analyzing faces on the Internet for individual characteristics and storing the biometric data. The database contains around 900 million faces.

Tankred Schipanski, the Union's digital policy spokesman in the Bundestag, described the offer as "untenable". "If (regulation) at the EU level should not succeed in a timely manner, we have to act here as national legislators," he said netzpolitik.org.

Jens Zimmermann, digital policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, called for a thorough examination of whether the existing legal regulations offer sufficient protection. «Do we really want to live in a society where anonymity in fact is no longer possible in public space?»

The left-wing spokeswoman for network politics in the Bundestag, Anke Domscheit-Berg, rated PimEyes as "highly dangerous". Domscheit-Berg said that women who want to move anonymously in public spaces are more easily identified and exposed to harassment. She contacted the Federal Data Protection Officer Ulrich Kelber. "If this app does not have a legal basis as stipulated by the GDPR, appropriate sanctions must therefore be imposed and the spread of the app prevented as soon as possible."

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) states that the processing of biometric data for the unique identification of a natural person is prohibited. PimEyes explained that the search engine is not about identifying a person. Users should upload their own face there alone and could see where pictures of them appear on the net.

The case commemorates the controversial US company Clearview AI, which compiled around three billion images of people from the Internet to develop a comprehensive database for facial recognition. For the database, publicly available images were sucked into platforms such as Facebook and YouTube or the US payment service Venmo, as the “New York Times” reported. A number of lawsuits under Clearview AI are now pending. Law enforcement agencies in the US state of Vermont are also investigating the company.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200710-99-742627 / 3

Report netzpolitik.org

New York Times report