Face it, they misled me
I had a heart-in-mouth moment yesterday when I realised that many of my photos from 2007 to 2015 had been used to train facial recognition technology.
The news came via a report from NBC News
about Ever, an online photo album app that is more than it first seems:
"In other words, what began in 2013 as another cloud storage app has pivoted toward a far more lucrative business known as Ever AI — without telling the app’s millions of users.”
The name ‘Ever’ didn’t ring a bell until I did some digging and realised they’d pitched me for coverage on TNW back in 2015 when they first launched their app, then called Everalbum. I passed the pitch on to a colleague who wrote about them, and we did another piece later when they launched new features.
I must have signed up to give it a go, because when I checked I discovered that Ever has eight years of my photos sitting on its servers, apparently being used to train commercial face recognition software. That’s not just pictures of me, but also of my friends, family, and other people I know or who incidentally ended up in a photo I was taking.
What’s more, there’s no clear way to delete your account. All you can do is manually delete each photo individually. I will of course get in touch with them to request a bulk deletion, but whether US-based Ever is compelled to comply under GDPR hasn’t been tested in court yet.
And even if my account disappears and they say it’s gone for good, who’s to say they’re not still using my photos somewhere without my knowledge?
This was a teachable moment for me when it comes to personal data. I’m generally a savvy person when it comes to these things, but it’s still very easy to share data with people and then completely forget about it. And those people might not be honourable custodians of your data.
I doubt I’d be quite so quick to share my photos with a startup nowadays, but, well, the damage is already done, isn’t it?