Saturday, May 30, 2009

Don't Smile For The Camera

The topic for this weekend is the driver's license.

This is from NBC/Washington:

WASHINGTON -- As most people are generally bubbly and bursting with joy after waiting in line after line for hour after hour -- often on a second or third visit after forgetting their cable bills to prove their residences (to environmentalists' chagrin, the DMV stands firmly in the way of practical paperless billing) -- at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia is insisting that people refrain from smiling for their driver's license pictures.

My natural facial expression is usually somewhere betweeen pained and puzzled. I can cope.

A new policy requires a "neutral facial expression" for the photos in an effort to fight fraud. The policy comes in anticipation of facial recognition programs that would be able to recognize if someone already has gotten a license under a different name. Smiling makes that harder to determine.

For years my employers at Jukt Micronics have wanted to open a warehouse/distribution center in California, but California is turning into the next failed nation-state. So they decided that we're going to Virginia, and the lease has already been signed. Bummer.

Some drivers are all smiles despite the fact that the DMV is like the dentist minus the laughing gas. They argue that it's just a natural reaction to smile for the camera. But they won't be allowed to smile even a little bit because the DMV photographer will get a message rejecting the photo.

Which gets to my point....What the heck do they need with facial recognition software? Who, besides the Facial Recognition Software Lobby, thinks that the DMV and the VA Highway Patrol needs facial recognition software? Was this part of the porkulus package? (Here's a slightly related link to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram piece on the North Richland Hills and Bedford, TX police getting military style upgrades and armored vehicles as a porkulus perk. The better not to apprehend the thieves who've broken into my house.)

This has nothing to do with the controversy a few years back when some pranksters got their Virginia driver's license photos wearing disguises and making faces, DMV officials said.

Here's some greatness on the topic from Reason magazine.

1 comment:

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

I love the headline on "When smiling is outlawed, only outlaws will smile."

More bumpersticker ideas: "Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my smile."

"I support our troops and the War on Smiles"

"Just because I have a killer smile shouldn't send me to jail."