Do Not Smile At The Machine

22:01 Mon 01 Jun 2009
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Via Bruce Schneier comes news that four American states have banned smiling while having your driver’s license photograph taken. Yes, really. Because facial recognition software that they’re apparently using to try to cut down on fraud doesn’t like it:

Dull expressions “make the comparison process more accurate,” says Karen Chappell, deputy commissioner of the Virginia DMV, whose no-smile policy took effect in March.
“Four states adopt ‘no-smiles’ policy for driver’s licenses”, Thomas Frank, USA Today, 25 May 2009

Sure, the explanation that they need to do this to prevent fraud sounds rational, but really, preventing people from smiling? I think it’s hard to find a better metaphor for “soulless bureaucracy”.

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