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Happy days are over for drivers in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia, which have banned smiles on license photos.  (Source: NY Daily News)

Diana Kim, of Fairfax, Va. isn't smiling as she gets her license -- it's banned in her state.  (Source: USA Today)
Turn that smile upside down

As high-tech licenses become increasingly hard to forge, the Department of Motor Vehicles has found that one popular approach to obtaining fraudulent license is for someone to pose as a friend or colleague in an effort to get an official license.  New high-tech software uses facial recognition to warn officials if the face of the person being licensed matches someone already licensed.

However, there's one problem -- the algorithms often fail if people are making different faces in the two photos.  So four states -- Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia -- are telling drivers to wipe that grin off their face.  No more happy days for licensing, the states have declared, drivers must adopt "neutral facial expressions".

Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor Takeo Kanade acknowledges that the move is necessary given the poor state of facial recognition technology when it comes to facial expressions.  Researchers still have yet to catch up to the inherent processing capability of the human brain, which can recognize familiar faces in a broad variety of expressions.

Karen Chappell, deputy commissioner of the Virginia DMV says that the smile ban is necessary to "make the comparison process more accurate."

Some citizens who were initially offended are changing their tune, deciding that the rule is in the best interest of national security.  States Elaine Mullen of Great Falls, Va., "It's probably safer from a national-security point of view."

Arkansas, Indiana and Nevada do still allow small smiles.  Currently 31 states in total do computerized matching of driver's license photos, and 3 others are considering it.  Of the 27 other states without anti-smiling policies, many are considering adopting similar measures.  Some states though are resisting the movement.  Pennsylvania Transportation Department spokesman Craig Yetter, states, "People can smile here in Pennsylvania."

Even without a smile-ban, Illinois stopped 6,000 people from getting fraudulent licenses since 1999, according to Beth Langen, the state head of Drivers Services.

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RE: And the sheep say...
By callmeroy on 5/27/2009 11:12:40 AM , Rating: 3
As most people do -- you are over dramatizing Ben's quote in this case and also thinking FAR too narrowly at the same time.

National security is a comprehensive concept -- it doesn't ONLY mean one area of security (example: foreign terrorist threats) doesn't even exclusively mean security from just physical harm. ID theft is a pretty bad experience to go through if you ever had to go through it. Its certainly not fun to try and clean up the mess that's for sure, let alone the feeling of your information --- private and financial -- being "out there" unsecured and in the hands of who knows and with what ethical or moral principles will guide their actions with said information.

I have not *knock on wood* it hasn't happened to me personally, but to folks I know and saw and heard what they went through.

Finally, in summation its about protecting YOURSELF from being a victim of fraud....nevermind anyone don't like the idea of security measures to guard against you from being a victim of fraud?

Ben's quote doesn't apply at ALL in this case.

RE: And the sheep say...
By callmeroy on 5/27/2009 11:18:35 AM , Rating: 5
Btw, as someone with a profound interest in history - particular during our country's founding -- it peeves me to know end how out of context and over used most people apply the quotes from the country's Revoluationary days especially. I bet you half the people (being generous at that even) know the conditions of the times and the issues they faced to lead to those famous words we refer to or even the Constituation.....folks largely had a deep love for what they believed in and willingly put their lives in jeopardy (and indeed many died in fact) for those a kid will quote a famous line in a debate for something someone denying his/her right to go to the mall or play a video game ......just peeves me...maybe i take that history stuff to serious I don't know.

Anyway..fin / steps off soap box.

RE: And the sheep say...
By Regs on 5/27/2009 3:53:43 PM , Rating: 1
I know what the problem is. We learn history in grade 2 and BULLSHIT in college.

RE: And the sheep say...
By Alexstarfire on 5/27/2009 8:19:55 PM , Rating: 3
Wait, kids these days actually know those quotes? I'm quite surprised they even know them. It might not be the same as them using it for representation, but I think being able to express yourself is just as important. Perhaps it's not that important for just ONE photo, but we know it never stops at just one anything.

And you should have taken English class a bit more serious.

RE: And the sheep say...
By mindless1 on 5/28/2009 9:22:00 AM , Rating: 1
That's ridiculous. No matter your interest in history you did not invent those words and have no more of an ownership or judgement of their use than anyone else, no particular justification to get upset about it.

The men that said or wrote them on the other hand, were they around today they might be more fairly upset.

It's not that you take history too seriously, it's that you're not seeing they are only words, these men throughout history ALSO acted, the words meant little without the will to act. It is only sensible to ignore someone who says something they have no intention of carrying through with.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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