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No Smiles At NJ Motor Vehicle Commission 265

Posted by timothy
from the when-instructions-are-redundant dept.
Reader Presto Vivace blesses us with news that the state of New Jersey "has banned motorists from making big smiles [for their license pictures] because such expressions don't work with facial recognition software." Now that passports are by decree grim and glasses-free, I'm expecting the next phase to involve the banning of facial hair, lips, and any hair that blocks the ears.
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No Smiles At NJ Motor Vehicle Commission

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  • by Nyder (754090) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:49PM (#41402939) Journal

    going to be smiling big time when i get my next ID.

    • No smiles in Ohio (Score:5, Informative)

      by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:59PM (#41403079) Homepage

      That's not new. No smiles in Ohio, either-- I renewed my license over a year ago, and was quite firmly instructed that smiles were not allowed in drivers license photos because it screws up the facial recognition software.

      http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-10249834-71.html [cnet.com]
      http://www.autoblog.com/2009/05/27/states-adopting-no-smiles-policy-for-drivers-licenses/ [autoblog.com]
      http://www.webanswers.com/legal/why-can-t-you-smile-in-your-drivers-license-picture-84ffba [webanswers.com]

      • by Shatrat (855151)

        Nor Indiana. I wonder if they all use the same software with the same readme?

      • by fearlezz (594718) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:12PM (#41403239) Homepage

        Nor the Netherlands. Seems politicians want to wipe every single smile of our faces.

        • Nor the Netherlands. Seems politicians want to wipe every single smile of our faces.

          Dutch stories don't count - they're harder to blame on American politics.

      • Same in Nevada.
      • Virginia too, my wife just got her license renewed and wasn't allowed to smile.
        • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @04:03PM (#41403869)
          It's been almost two years since I renewed my license in Virginia too. What's even funnier is that the guy ahead of me had a tee shirt on with Bob Marley on it. The print of Bob smiling on the shirt screwed up the camera (or operator) somehow. After several attempts they made him turn his shirt inside-out.
        • Virginia, too, where every third car on the road is a cop. Why smile on the license photo? I'd rather be giving the finger.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I work as an engineer in ohio for the company behind all this and can tell you facial recognition never works anyhow.

      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @04:15PM (#41403987)

        I renewed my license over a year ago, and was quite firmly instructed that smiles were not allowed in drivers license photos because it screws up the facial recognition software.

        That means you have to smile while driving. :-)

      • There's just something deliciously ironic about this.

        So no smiles - how about grimaces, massive frowns, or even clown-like pull-your-lips-hoizontally-cross-your-eyes-and-stick-out-your-tounge?

        I say treat these asshole bureaucrats with exactly the respect they deserve - either smile or pull one of the above stunts, refuse to change your expression until he snaps the picture, and refuse to move until you get your license. Can't think of a broken law there. Seriously, don't stand for this shit, people.
    • Since we're all piling on under this comment: not in Massachusetts either. And that's been true for at least 5 years now.
    • by PRMan (959735) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:29PM (#41403449)
      Don't lie. Nobody smiles in NJ, because it's NJ...
    • Well that rule can't be too hard to enforce. I mean these people are already in New Jersey, and they are at the DMV to boot. I don't think you can get closer to hell.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Well you can, but the Devil will require you to get a NJ drivers license before he lets you past the gates...

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Hope you like walking. They can simply refuse to issue your new ID. And if you argue, you can be taken in by the cops for causing a disturbance.

    • Or just smile big when you're on camera. Seems like facial expression is a pretty glaring deficiency for facial recognition software.
    • by Larryish (1215510)

      Put some foam fillers in your upper gums before the picture is taken, and squint your eyes like a Chinese sweatshop worker.

    • by BlueStrat (756137)

      going to be smiling big time when i get my next ID.

      Easy fix (sort of).

      Just refuse to apply for state ID or driver's licenses. If 100's of thousands or millions of drivers refuse to apply for licenses and drive anyway, are they going to shut down the streets and roads? Arrest a large proportion of the entire state's population?

      Where does your state store the facial recognition data? Would Molotov cocktails in the facial data storage drive racks affect facial recognition data integrity?

      I'm sick and tired of this emerging police state. You're *far* more likely

      • by Psion (2244)
        Okay ... I'm getting up and moving to a seat a little farther away from BlueStrat.

        What's that? No, no, I don't know that guy. Never saw him before in my life.
      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @06:07PM (#41405309) Homepage Journal

        going to be smiling big time when i get my next ID.

        Easy fix (sort of).

        Just refuse to apply for state ID or driver's licenses.

        Yup, and lose your ability to drive, vote, have access to government buildings and services...

        Not being arch, just pointing out facts.

        If 100's of thousands or millions of drivers refuse to apply for licenses and drive anyway, are they going to shut down the streets and roads? Arrest a large proportion of the entire state's population?

        Nah, they'll just turn it into another revenue-generation mechanism and continue pounding our collective asses, just from a different angle.

        I'm sick and tired of this emerging police state. You're *far* more likely to be struck by lightning or be attacked by sharks than to be killed by a terrorist attack.

        Well, now, that all depends on your definition of terrorism - if we go by the dictionary, then a person actually is far more likely to be harmed by a terrorist than struck by lightning. The catch is, said terrorist will likely be wearing a government-issued uniform, and be imbued with authority by whatever fascist regime is in charge at the time.

        Yet the sheep continue to baa for more and rush to hand over ever more of their freedom, give the terrorists in government ever more power to enslave them, and fork over ever more of the people's wealth to pay for the chains.

        Strat

        Yup, it's truly sickening. Also a good part of the reason I always want to punch anyone who pops off with "you get the government you deserve." No, motherfucker, I get stuck the government you deserve, 'cuz you (collectively speaking) are a bunch of self-centered pussies, too scared of your own shadow to stand up for yourself and your neighbors.

    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      Just sneeze instead. It's not a smile. Within the letter of the law.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      I think I'm just going to stick out my tongue at the camera.

  • by KatchooNJ (173554) <KatchooNJ@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:52PM (#41402975) Homepage

    So... To flip this... does that mean if I smile when doing something naughty, I won't be recognized by the serious computers?

  • I'll just pencil the grin in, along with evil mustache on my next picture.
    • by knarfling (735361)
      I am still trying the Steven Wright method. He managed to have his licence photo taken out of focus. That way, when the cops pull him over, they stare at the photo for a second and then say, "Here. You can go."

      Despite my best effors, I have not been able to accomplish this ... yet.

      • You have to vibrate really rapidly when your picture is being snapped - short exposure time and all that ;p
        • by Loughla (2531696)

          Like this? [wikipedia.org] That seems like it would be easy enough to do.

          Actually, technically, I believe we're all currently doing that.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        No, no, you've got it wrong - it's not a matter of getting the photo taken out of focus, you have to be out of focus when the photo is taken - it can be a bit of a challenge, but no camera can take a focused photo of a person who's out of focus to begin with.

  • Banning of lips?? Reminds me of the Footloose spoof called Footless where the whole town sold their feet to the Chinese.
  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:56PM (#41403027) Journal
    so why should we?
  • Cue the grinning criminal outbreak!

    Obviously the facial recognition software won't recognize you committing your crime if you do it with a smile.

  • It's also worth noting that Virginia sued Northrop either last year or two years ago for issues over creating driver's licenses, so I suspect New Jersey decided to also contract with Northrop for the same system.

    Oh well, their loss. Everyone in VA looks like a serial killer on their black-and-white photos.
  • by Rakarra (112805) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:02PM (#41403103)

    Picture link [g4tv.com]. Simple effective fun!
    The result: The finished license. [g4tv.com]

    • Great. Now anybody with the simplest image-processing software can see exactly how you'll look with and without a beard, and with and without hair -- just mirror the appropriate part of the image.

      Now, if you're really paranoid, there ought to be all sorts of ways to do the equivalent of dazzle camouflage [wikipedia.org] in your DMV photo. Asymmetric stripes in your beard or hair, a bit of Darth Maul work with a sharpie...

    • I've heard heard rumors of a rogue DOT agent who has pledged to shave all men who do not shave themselves. I think perhaps a clue to this mysterious paradox has been provided by your link. It must be him.
  • by dskoll (99328) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:03PM (#41403121)

    Passports make sense because by the time you're done being manhandled by the TSA or CATSA, you're likely to look very grumpy anyway.

    But I'm usually not in a terrible mood when I'm driving.

    • by oneiros27 (46144)

      But no one's looking at your license while you're driving. It's when you're grumpy for having been pulled over that they ask to see your license.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      But I'm usually not in a terrible mood when I'm driving.

      No, but when you have been stopped and being asked for ID you may not be so thrilled.

  • I usually try to obscure my face with my middle finger whenever I see a traffic camera

    • by omnichad (1198475)

      Too bad they're taking a picture of your license plate and don't care what your face looks like.

      • by PRMan (959735)
        Actually, they do. They have to be able to prove it was you driving if it goes to court.
        • Actually, they do. They have to be able to prove it was you driving if it goes to court.

          YMMV. Per Iowa law, it's up to you to show you either rented out the vehicle or produce the police report you filed when it got stolen. State legislature considered banning traffic cameras in general, but the big cities that use them rely on the revenue and lobbied against it. On the plus side -- if there is a real 'plus' -- it's not a criminal or traffic offense.

      • Too bad they're taking a picture of your license plate and don't care what your face looks like.

        So that's why they made me take the smiley-face stickers off my license plate!

  • by confused one (671304) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:12PM (#41403237)
    not shaving my beard. It's only just starting to show grey...
  • Glasses free? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anubis IV (1279820) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:15PM (#41403287)

    Now that passports are by decree grim and glasses-free

    Yeah...no. That's simply untrue. I went into the post office to get my passport photo taken last month and they didn't have me remove my glasses, nor did the Department of State seem to have any issues with my wearing them in my photo, since I just received my new passport last week.

    I think I read that there are some rules against a few particular types of glasses that obscure too much of the face (e.g. chunky frames), but they had no issues with my standard looking thin frames.

  • Validation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:16PM (#41403297)

    This is a great story. And yes, it's on topic for the OP. Take time to watch it all the way through.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbk980jV7Ao

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:33PM (#41403503)

    NJ isn't the only DMV doing stuff like this to make facial recognition easier. If they won't let you smile, try to turn your head so you are looking at the camera at an angle - part of the algorithm uses the distance between your eyes so turning your head, even slightly, in a simple 2D photo is going to change that. Width of nose and shape of cheekbones are also part of the equation so stuff cotton balls up your nose and in your cheeks and then just pretend you have a cold. Mascara helps too because it trys to figure out the depth of your eye sockets from the 2D photo too.

    Beyond all that a big question that none of these DMVs have had to answer is what the hell does the DMV need facial recognition for? It is a license to drive, if you get pulled over and you don't have a license on you (which is not illegal, you are only required to be licensed, not actually carry it with you when you drive that's just for convenience) they can just type your name in the computer in their car and bring up your DMV record and visually confirm your identity, no computerized facial recognition needed.

    • Beyond all that a big question that none of these DMVs have had to answer is what the hell does the DMV need facial recognition for?

      As I said in a higher thread, it's primarily to make sure that you don't get cards issued in multiple names. That is apparently attempted on a fairly regular basis, to the point that essentially every state has put in these systems to stop fraud. And they do actually catch people.

      • That is a plausible explanation, but I would like to see an evaluation of the trade-offs. How many fakers do they catch that would not have been caught otherwise, for example with a closer examination of the required paperwork. And, is that worth the extra cost, both monetary for the system and the cost to law-abiding citizens of misuse.

  • ...Only criminals will smile!

    • This whole thing is a plot hatched by the Joker.

      To the batmobile! (Thankfully, Batman still has his licence because Batman never smiles.)

  • If this facial recognition software cannot deal with smiles, how is it going to work on other random photos?

    Seems like it would be of pretty limited usefulness.

  • All this stuff messes with facial recognition. They also ban hats, glasses, etc. Facial hair, no, but you cant have your hair over your face...

    We have been doing this for some time now. Even caught a few people with multiple ID's in the system so it does work.

  • Try adopting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @04:09PM (#41403933)
    I adopted my son from Ethiopia a few years ago and had to go to a Homeland security office a few hours away from me for an entire day to fill out paperwork and get every single finger, and even my palms printed. Then they took pictures of me from every angle imaginable. I told the homeland security agent "Well I guess going off the grid won't be an option anymore" he laughed and said "Yea, you're definitely in the system now"

    On the bright side, I went to buy a handgun recently and the store owner called in my background check to the FBI. He gave them my SS# and then said "Oh... really? Already?" and hung up. He said that what usually happens is they research it and call him back. He's never had them just approve it over the phone in a matter of seconds like that. So I guess when the government has already logged every cell in your body already there are at least some benefits.
  • I guess if you want to get away with something you had better be smiling the whole time... if you mess up pattern matching by having a smile in the official exemplar then it would follow that you mess up pattern matching by having a smile in the sample to be compared, right?
  • 1. Remember to smile when breaking the law... OR
    2. Create startup company which intends to develop software for facial recognition of smiling people...
    3. ???
    4. PROFIT!!!

  • Since they won't let you smile, you'll need to find another way to look nice in your photo. Some dazzling make-up [boingboing.net] perhaps?

My idea of roughing it turning the air conditioner too low.

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