31 May 2009
Smile when you say that

smiley According to an article at USA Today, four states have adopted a “no-smiles” policy for driver license photographs (although it later mentions that three of them “allow slight smiles”). Thirty-one states already do computerized photo matching and three others are considering it.

The photo matching software is used to detect possible DL fraud or identity theft. The reasoning behind the requirement is that the software performs better if the images have “neutral facial expressions” and it’s easier to get people to conform to the software rather than the reverse (a rant for another day). However, from the article I get the impression that most states don’t consider that a problem. Maybe these four states should consider alternate vendors?

I don’t think this is a big issue, at least in isolation, but it did remind me of the bland society we’re trying to turn ourselves into. Fix the software, don’t tell people they can’t smile.

What did annoy me was this:

Elaine Mullen of Great Falls, Va., bristled at the policy while renewing her license until she heard the reasoning. “It’s probably safer from a national-security point of view,” she says.

First, it’s about fraud, not security. Second, I detest the way “national security” has become another code-phrase, like “think of the children”, that just shuts down any reasonable discussion and the immediate sacrificing of any rights and conveniences to the shrine of security theater. Arrrgh.

h/t: Schneier on Security: No Smiling in Driver’s License Photographs

image: Smiley.svg, Wikimedia Commons

Category: Life-Society
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