By on September 6, 2013


The news that Ohio has joined a majority of other states in silently using facial recognition to make drivers “suspects” without their knowledge has been in the news for the past day or so. My first impulse was to write an incendiary tract where I compared my current home state to Soviet Russia in a manner that would be favorable to Soviet Russia. In the interest of balance, however, I reached out to someone with a deeper personal knowledge on the issue to provide a more dispassionate viewpoint. We’ve honored the writer’s request, and made this an anonymous contribution —- JB

The dreaded/joyful day has arrived when your teenaged son or daughter has passed the requisite tests, and it is time to smile for the camera and proudly receive that plastic card that legally empowers him or her to drive the mean streets of your neighborhood. You’ve already warned the neighbors, and they have dutifully moved everything mobile away from the curb. The mailboxes may suffer, but what can be done? Your excited child lines up exactly where he is told (you’re shocked to see that yes, he can still respond to simple instructions), in front of the appropriately colored cloth hanging on the wall, and flashes the happiest (only?) smile you’ve seen in years, proudly showing off the thousands of dollars you spent on orthodontia. The irritated DMV worker snaps, “YOU CAN’T SMILE!!!!”* Your child’s face turns to mild annoyance, and SNAP, the somewhat puzzled look is captured for what is probably “all time” in this day and age of the “cloud”. Why are the evil DMV people raining on your kid’s parade, making driver’s license photos even more hideous than seems necessary? It’s all in the name of facial recognition.

These days in most states, in going to the DMV to get a driving permit or license (or even a state ID card for those curious non-driver types), you are not just receiving the legal authority to operate a motor vehicle and accidentally registering to vote, you are (in a majority of states) consenting to the submission of your photo to a database which can – and make no mistake, will, as allowed by state law – be searched for a variety of purposes, from identity fraud (which has been proven successful in multiple states across the nation) to searching for criminals whose identity is unknown. The use of facial recognition has been pretty big news over the past year (Boston bombing, anyone?), at least to those who pay attention to such things.

It made a huge splash over the past few weeks in Ohio. The article is a bit long, but worth the read if you care about privacy and what the government can do with your DMV photo. Also if you want a primer on how NOT to launch government use of a new, somewhat creepy, technology on an unsuspecting public, especially in a postSnowden world. And if you love reading the following arguments: “But everyone else is doing it!!!!” and “It’s going to catch bad people.” But I digress. So what is the fuss all about? If you haven’t done anything wrong, aren’t you supposed to have nothing to fear? Maybe. Maybe not.

Automated face recognition is not a “lights-out” or “positive identification” system. The result of the search doesn’t say “this is the guy, go arrest him!”, which may or may not be of any comfort. Essentially, this is what happens (prepare for horrible over-simplification – if you want the in-depth technical treatment, use the internet): your face image – your high cheekbones, the distance between your perfectly set eyes, the position of the corners of your mouth, and your Roman nose is converted into a string of 1s and 0s. When a photo is submitted to a facial recognition system for searching, that photo is likewise converted into a numerical representation. An algorithm then compares the1s and 0s of the submitted photo to the number generated to represent the cheekbones, eyes, mouth, and nose of every other individual found in the database. It isn’t image comparison, it is math; the world of cliched Ph.D.s, not mugshot line-ups of old. When it is done working its “magic”, the result is a list of photos of people who “could be the guy”.

If your perp is a (pick a race) (pick a gender), (pick an age range), the list of 10 (or 20, or 50; the number is based on variable settings which might be the “top ##” matches or a percentage threshold) could be made up of 10 people who don’t “look” like the perp – ethnicity, age, even gender could be “wrong”. (Years ago when a “celebrity doppleganger” facial recognition app was making the rounds, before I knew anything about how this stuff works, I was shocked to find the top results looked nothing like me, including wrong race and gender. The algorithms have gotten better, but it’s still math. And it’s still confused by glasses. And beards. And hats.) Once the list is provided, someone decides whether any of them might be the perp. That person may be trained in facial comparison and identification, or she could be a local cop who has received no training. In any case, law enforcement (or the DMV or any other authorized user) with the right equipment and the right access can submit a photo of someone who is not you, and (based on math) receive your driver’s license and personal information about you as a “this might be the guy” candidate. As a result of this, depending on agency rules/state laws, your photo – which you thought at the time it was taken was for that whole driving thing – could end up as part of a criminal investigation. Your information – name, date of birth, address, perhaps still in some states your social security number – might be sitting in some investigative file, or may even be uploaded into a law enforcement database. Of course there are supposed to be rules in place which protect our privacy by governing how all this information is accessed and used, but as we see from Ohio, sometimes the technological cart finds itself in front of the legal/policy horse.

When law enforcement argues that they aren’t doing anything “different” with facial recognition and DMV photos, they are right. And they’re wrong. There is something that feels decidedly different, and uncomfortable, about having our faces searched, particularly when nothing else is known about us to the searchers. When we HAVE to provide our likeness in order to do something which is so basic in our society it feels like a “right”. About the idea that our photo could be taken while we participate in a protest or a political rally, fully within our First Amendment rights, and even though there are (supposed to be) rules in place to prevent it, that photo could be run against a database, and because we drive, our identity is discovered, our anonymity dissolved. In a world where there seem to be cameras everywhere (and don’t believe everything you read – we’re not to Minority Report or Jason Bourne-type surveillance land, either technologically or legally…yet), where federal law allows your driver’s license information to be used for a shocking variety of purposes beyond even law enforcement (photos are, at least in some states, more protected from disclosure than the other information), facial recognition technology keeps marching on, and the “if it catches bad guys, it must be okay” mantra constantly clashes with the Constitution – and sometimes wins, our collective and individual feelings about privacy are, at best, conflicted. If we want to drive a motor vehicle, in most of these United States, we are consenting to the use of our image for law enforcement purposes. And somehow, that just doesn’t feel right, especially when we don’t know such uses exist.

So what is the truth to be found here about cars? If you drive one, chances are your face – and all the information attached to your driver’s license – is fair game for a technology that is new and not yet at the point where it can make perfect identity determinations. For some people this is totally unnerving. For others, it brings no discomfort. This information is not provided to tell you what to think about the issue, as reasonable minds can and do differ, but simply to make you aware that your license is not just a license to drive…in reality, in a majority of states, it is a license to allow law enforcement agencies to consider whether you are a suspect in a crime to which you have no connection, based solely on a mathematical interpretation of the structure of your face. A consideration which would never have occurred without your love and (probably actual, not simply transcendental) need for cars.

*So why can’t you smile at the DMV? (Not that most DMV experiences lead to smiles.) Smiling, and other non-neutral facial expressions, make automated facial recognition more difficult. It’s the same reason sunglasses aren’t allowed, and head coverings are prohibited unless worn for religious or medical purposes.

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55 Comments on “Why Can’t You Smile At The DMV? How Your Photo Is Used Without Your Knowledge...”

  • avatar

    First of all, I just want to say that there’s a world of difference between getting your license for the first time (or even getting it renewed) vs. getting your motorcycle endorsement. Same gruffed and jaded DMV faces, same lousy DMV attitude, but…a certain swagger that’s just not there otherwise.

    Yeah, I just wanted to mention that.

    Secondly, as for the actual article…I’ve got mixed feelings. People like me who are crime drama junkies have probably subconsciously figured this out a long time ago – except that instead of facial recognition software, it’s the gruff and jaded detective (really, his or her facial expression could belong at the DMV) slapping a blown-up photocopy of a driver’s license on a whiteboard. I’m with Jalopnik on the increasingly sneaky and underhanded things the NYPD and police-at-large have been up to, but I honestly don’t know if this is at that level. Frankly, I do like the idea of technology helping to defeat identity thieves.

  • avatar

    Solution: Wear multiple pairs/styles of glasses, regularly wear hoodies/hats/do-rags, and grow a beard while grinning like The Joker.

    Comes a time when you will be stopped/frisked/questioned/arrested because you didn’t go directly to/from your vehicle in a parking garage. Just because you stopped to admire that classic/rare/sports car model, you’ll be interrogated and labeled a potential car thief or even an attempted rapist, depending on the circumstances.

    We live in some of the safest (violent crime-wise) eras in human history. We just hear the constant shock stories in the media and our brains are wired to assume all the violence in reported the world is happening in communities of 250 or less people.

  • avatar

    We’re becoming a police state and nobody seems to care.

    I’d much rather take my chances with terrorists and thieves than Big Brother.

    • 0 avatar

      Things tend to reach a tipping point, unnoticed by those with the most power. TTAG’s readers don’t have 16M M16s per household because they’re afraid the government will take them away. They have them because they’re just plain afraid.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        The culture of fear which has been created by the media, but the U.S. media in particular as a result of their commercial needs has really manifested itself in odds ways in the U.S. On the one hand, people are significantly more scared of certain things (violent crime, minorities) than in the past, despite the significant statistical decline in actual risks. On the other hand, they have also created a pervasive fear of their own government, which is juxtaposed against the particular American faith in their institutions.

        I’m just observing this from the outside, but it seems really unhealthy. I see similar things in my country, but to much lesser extents and only in very particular geographic areas.

        • 0 avatar

          The scary thing is people who run around worrying about other governments, but are silly as sheeple about the only one that is harassing them unimpeded on a regular basis.

          “But, but…. those scary Mullahs and virgins in caves and stuff across three oceans and without a navy…. who have, like, done exactly nothing to me, ever; but they’re scary, scary anyway sez massa government; so I have to hand over all my money and rights, to be protected from them… Instead of simply getting some decent kit, just on the offchance some scary virgin comes strolling down my driveway with ill intent”

        • 0 avatar

          “When I go to the money machine tonight, alright, I ain’t looking over my back for the media, I’m looking for ******! What, you think I’ve got three guns in my house ’cause the media outside? Ted Coppell ain’t never took shit from me..” – Chris Rock

    • 0 avatar

      Your statement could not be more true. We are slowly becoming accustomed to more and more tactics that, if enacted at one time, we would immediately object to.
      Police cruisers (at least around Columbus) roam the roads with ALPRs cameras bolted to both rear fenders; at one point that may have been considered odd, but now I am surprised when I see a cruiser without them. Do we know what they’re doing with the data? Is it being stored responsibly? How long is it kept and what 3rd parties (Redflex, et al) are being provided with the data?
      The more that we all sit back and just say “Hey, that’s a bunch of crap!” as we scramble to comment on the issue the more the problem grows.
      I for one, will be doing what I can; I will be contacting my representative (yet again) to let him know how I feel. Granted Mr. Stivers is a bit of a toolshed and typically rebuffs my arguments with a “Aww, cute letter, don’t really care kthxbai” attitude, I shall persist.
      If you truly give half a rat’s ass, make a stink with the politicians that supposedly represent you.
      And for those of lucky Ohio residents:

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        If you want them to care, then give them no money, but give their rivals a bunch. The only threat you have which scares a politician immediately is your ability to eliminate their chances of re-election.

        • 0 avatar

          But what does it matter when the opposition is just as power-hungry? Or when the media scares the majority into thinking that the guy against authoritarian control is some anarchist whack-job? Look at the public opinion of Ron Paul and his supporters. 90% of that opinion is media-fueled.

      • 0 avatar

        Cameras are just getting smaller, cheaper and better. The scam that the way of dealing with this, is to beg the biggest abusers to make the reaming feel better, is just another part of rendering opposition moot and irrelevant.

        You will be recorded by “them”, whomever them may be. Hence, to stay within some semblance of balance, the way to deal with it is to record them as aggressively as they record you. In practice that means recording all around you at all time, and making it all public. That way, you are doing the public a service by putting them on an equal footing with the scumbags that wish to prevent everyone from recording others, except for themselves, which are special, “need to”, and more equal, of course.

        Ditto for supporting any development that makes men equal in the sense that as long as there are some that can give orders to have anyone killed or kidnapped (to Gitmo or wherever), those anyone should have a similarly convenient way of killing those “special guys.” It will eventually get there, and it couldn’t happen too soon.

    • 0 avatar

      You can kill terrorists and thieves when they show up. But when Big Brother decides they’re coming for you, you’ve got *no* chance.

    • 0 avatar

      @jacob_coulter- This may be true in some cases but I’ve seen too many people take things far too seriously by stockpiling weapons, etc.

      And if you think that this police state development is recent, it’s been going on forever and it started when states started requiring licenses and license plates. The original way of tracking others.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Regarding the suggestions on ways to screw up the facial recognition software, a thought occurs to me as to why that would be potentially a really bad idea.

    The software just scans the data for results matching the boundaries of the search. Your other data (name, address and whatnot) wasn’t being searched, and isn’t concealed by such ideas. The police could still potentially find your info through a search which turned you up in the results. It’s just that now, by looking in the photo like you are trying to conceal your identity, you just look much more suspicious in their eyes. Also, by alterting your appearance you may just wind up looking more like someone they’re looking for.

    Ah the future, it’s here now, makes no sense and no one is in control. It’ll all end in the same level of tears as the rest of human history.

  • avatar

    Come on, guys, it’s just new software getting used while the user experience is still rough around the edges. The algorithms are getting better and pretty soon you’ll be able to smile in your drivers’ license photo without screwing up the facial recognition.

    Of course, it’ll be an unconvincing fake smile mustered up after hours of bureaucratic purgatory, but that’s what it was before this started, so no real change there.

  • avatar

    Is this where our private lives are headed? In some police database to be used or sold or manipulated in case you run for office against an incumbent who’s a big supporter of police budgets? Or maybe someone who just speaks up at city council meetings? All because we have the temerity to expect to drive our family whips to school, work and the dairy queen on a 95 degree weekend day.

    Police make mistakes all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.

    A friend of mine had his door kicked in by the police because his name is the same as someone else’s they were looking for. He has a 2 year old and a 4 year old that got to experience that. He’s a chiropractor. Clearly a hardened criminal.

    • 0 avatar

      And yet the poor sap probably still fall for the line that we really need those guys with special privileges to knock in other people’s door; for the children you know. Public indoctrination vindicated.

  • avatar

    “the ‘if it catches bad guys, it must be okay’ mantra constantly clashes with the Constitution”

    Sadly, you’ve fallen into the “If I dislike it, then it must be unconstitutional” trap that is common on the internet but wrong in the real world.

    The reality is that the constitution provides us with very few privacy rights. The First Amendment even promotes the rights of a free press to investigate you and publicly ponder the nature of your existence.

    Personally, I cherish my privacy. However, I know that the law provides me with very little of what I want. And in any case, many privacy rights have been effectively privatized out of existence — companies will use our personal information against us or as a commodity to be sold and traded with very little to stop them.

    The Constitution provides us with some basic protections, such as the right to a trial. It doesn’t provide us with the right to avoid being photographed or filmed when we are in public places, or to have much privacy outside of our houses.

    I don’t happen to like that. But there is no constitutional problem here, and it’s pretty obvious that the federal, state and local governments have little empathy for my position, and will not be passing any laws that do anything to change this.

    • 0 avatar

      The Constitution defines the limits of the POWER of the GOVERNMENT. The freedom of the press guaranteed in A1 limits the government from restricting access of the press.

      What this means that if the press wants to obtain information from a WILLING source, the government is powerless to prevent this.

      NOWHERE in the Constitution does it say the Government may obtain information from an UNWILLING source. Get it straight.

      • 0 avatar

        “The freedom of the press guaranteed in A1 limits the government from restricting access of the press.”

        Which of course means the press is free to write stories with minimal interference from the government. The stories can include profiles on subjects who don’t wish to be profiled, even you.

        “NOWHERE in the Constitution does it say the Government may obtain information from an UNWILLING source.”

        I have no idea what point you’re trying to make. If the local newspaper wants to probe into your life, then it can. Truth is a defense against libel and slander, and there is no constitutional restriction on the subjects that the media can cover. The media can and frequently does report on those who would prefer to avoid the publicity.

        The Constitution makes zero references to a right to privacy. Zero. Subsequent case law provides for minimal privacy rights in an automobile. We have very few rights when behind the wheel. I don’t happen to like it, but that’s the reality.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah Pch, I’m also wondering how you interpret A1 to mean “The First Amendment even promotes the rights of a free press to investigate you and publicly ponder the nature of your existence.”

    • 0 avatar
      Legally Brunette

      “Sadly, you’ve fallen into the “If I dislike it, then it must be unconstitutional” trap that is common on the internet but wrong in the real world.”

      There is nothing in this piece to indicate the author has fallen into an internet trap or misunderstands reality. There is nothing which indicates personal feelings about any particular constitutional question. It seems simply an acknowledgement that there is a tension between those who believe anything is justified so long as bad people are caught and our nation’s supreme law which limits the power of the government against its citizens.

      As an attorney who deals with questions of constitutional protections on a daily basis, I have to disagree pretty strongly with this characterization. Of course the Constitution doesn’t address biometric or other current technology, but that doesn’t mean the protection of the 4th Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure and the affirmative right to be secure in one’s person, house, paper, and effects is rendered meaningless. In a period of 18 months – January 2012 – June 2013, the Supreme Court handed down decisions in two cases with potentially far-reaching affects. One of them may reach to this very issue – U.S. v. Jones (the GPS tracker case). Personally, I think Jones is going to be the foundation for arguments against the use of License Plate Readers, and potentially against facial recognition (maybe not all uses, maybe not even current uses, but there are certainly future technologies which could e implicated). The other case, Maryland v. King, is going to spawn all sorts of nuanced litigation that will further shape our jurisprudence on privacy and the 4th.

      I dislike many things which are constitutional. Some of us are able to separate personal/philosophical/political feelings about what *should* be from what is.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks for actually knowing the law and The Constitution.

        The 1A did not need to envision radio, TV, or teh interwebz to provide limits on government interference – it’s innate.

        The 2A did not need to envision an AR-15 to provide strict prohibition against government limiting personal ownership of military firearms – it’s innate.

        The 4A did not need to envision cameras, algorithms, or facial recognition to prohibit its use by the gov without probable cause and the issuance of a warrant (let alone checkpoints for any reason) – it’s innate.

        Sure there have been some rulings in direct contravention of our founding principles. Thankfully, we still have some Judges who believe in why we founded this Great Nation.

      • 0 avatar

        “As an attorney who deals with questions of constitutional protections on a daily basis, I have to disagree pretty strongly with this characterization.”

        If you’re a con law attorney, then you should be well aware of the automobile exceptions to the Fourth Amendment.

        “but that doesn’t mean the protection of the 4th Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure and the affirmative right to be secure in one’s person, house, paper, and effects is rendered meaningless.”

        I don’t recall saying that, so I would appreciate it if you would avoid making strawman arguments.

        If I may quote myself, “The Constitution provides us with some basic protections, such as the right to a trial. It doesn’t provide us with the right to avoid being photographed or filmed when we are in public places, or to have much privacy outside of our houses.”

        And that’s simply a fact. If you’re in a public place, then you have no expectation of privacy for what is in plain sight.

        You need a license to drive a car. If you drive a car, the state can require that you display a placard with a series of letters and digits that identifies who owns it. With reasonable suspicion you can be stopped, and there are specific instances when you can be stopped even without reasonable suspicion.

        If we want more protections, then we’re going to need legislation to get them. I don’t see how US v. Jones, which ruled that the physical installation of a GPS unit on a car constiuted a search, is going to do anything to keep a cop from using a license plate reader, when license plates are openly displayed for the purpose of being read by law enforcement.

        The Rhode Island Supreme Court issued a ruling in Rhode Island v. Bjerke that should dash your hopes. This reasoning could very well make it to the federal level:

        “We do not believe that either Bjerke or the public at large has any reasonable expectation of privacy in a motor vehicle registration license plate.   We reach this conclusion in view of the fact that such plates and the information behind them are within the control and custody of the state through the Registry of Motor Vehicles.   We do not believe that either Bjerke or the public at large has an expectation of privacy from the state when it is well known to all that the state is the very body that issues, controls, and regulates motor vehicle registration license plates.   Furthermore it seems plain to us that there can be no expectation of privacy in one’s license plate when it hangs from the front and the rear of one’s vehicle for all the world to see.” 

        • 0 avatar

          So nice to see the East German contingent represented.

          Seriously, why are you living under our Constitution when a Statist Paradise is what you crave?

          I do hope you get an education before the 3AM-no-knock-at-the-wrong-adress-for-a-civil-fine-and-they-shoot-your-dog happens to you. But I doubt it. In fact, your positions are so sheeple, I think you’ll accept it. Gladly.

          • 0 avatar

            The majority have decided they want government to be daddy. Daddy tries to make sure everyone is treated fairly. He takes from some and gives to others, because inequality is not fair. He gives you an education, a place to stay, food, and cash to spend. If you get sick, he sends you to a doctor and pays for your treatment. If you have a baby, he takes care of that too, plus day care if you decide you want to work, but that’s up to you. He pays for your transportation and your prescriptions. Cradle to grave, daddy will never leave your side. If it’s not fair, daddy is always there.

            In return, daddy just demands obedience. Sometimes daddy gets mad and punishes people, but they deserve it, because they are selfish. This is what the majority wants and they have it.

            DMV photos in a fingerprint-like database available to every law-enforcement agency in the country is no big deal. As long as you do not commit a crime, oppose government policy, or oppose the continuous expansion of the size and power of government, you will be fine. The State will let you know when your opinions are unhealthy to the body.

        • 0 avatar
          Legally Brunette

          The line of reasoning in Justice Sotomayor’s concurrence (insert “license plate reader” for GPS, because the level of LPR use/retention in some jurisdictions could successfully be argued as constituting warrantless surveillance) is very likely to be reconsidered in the LPR context, and it would not be a surprise if her reasoning became the basis for a new legal protection of the right to privacy in public. It is a legal theory of aggregation, one that is gaining traction among privacy advocates.

          “I would take these attributes of GPS monitoring into account when considering the existence of a reasonable societal expectation of privacy in the sum of one’s public movements. I would ask whether people reasonably expect that their movements will be recorded and aggregated in a manner that enables the Government to ascertain, more or less at will, their political and religious beliefs, sexual habits, and so on. I do not regard as dispositivethe fact that the Government might obtain the fruits of GPS monitoring through lawful conventional surveillance techniques.”

  • avatar

    Potential solution.

  • avatar

    I was just told in a DMV last week to smile for my license photo. I tried.

  • avatar

    The last time I renewed my Washington driver’s license, not only was I told not to smile, but I was asked to remove my glasses. Now that doesn’t make any sense at all, because I am simply not likely to ever be seen in public without them unless they’ve been taken away from me.

    • 0 avatar

      I responded to this above. I have worn glasses since age 5. I was TOLD to remove them for the photo. I am without my glasses only two times: in the shower and in bed.

      So by my removing them, I am contributing to catching bad guys or preventing crime exactly how???

    • 0 avatar

      I’m still trying to figure out by what authority any of these people have to tell me that I’m not allowed to smile. Can someone define the difference between my normal facial expression and a smile? Don’t forget–everyone’s different, and I’m not aware of any requirement that citizens jump through facial tic requirements in order to legally drive a car.

      I’d also like to know what authority the DMV has to even ask me to remove my eyeglasses, without which I can barely see and function properly. “It’s no big deal, so I should just take them off for a minute”, you say? Well, that’s not for the DMV or anyone on the Internet to determine for me any more than if they’d asked a handicapped person to get out of their wheelchair.

      One time I was given field sobriety tests on the side of the road. LEO asked me if there were any medical reasons that I wouldn’t be able to pass all the tests. I explained that I had severe eye problems that were corrected by the use of prescription eyeglasses. His next demand? “Please remove your eyeglasses and follow this light with your eyes.” Of course, I failed, and he made me blow in a Breathalyzer, whose reading of “0.000%” seemed to infuriate him, like I’d pulled one over on him or something.

  • avatar

    So how do we make the quantum leap from “our faces are getting scanned by the police and now I’m wrongly a suspect for some crime” to “wtf I’ve been convicted of something I never did”. Independent of a facial recognition system, a lot has to happen after A for B to occur, right? How is this any different from fitting the verbal description of a perp without the use of facial recognition?

    • 0 avatar

      No, you are wrong. The computer mathematically matched you to the crime so you SO are guilty.

      Some paperwork is filed and a junior under-study assistant deputy attorney spouts some pre-scrubbed drivel and away you go to jail or worse.

      Our new super-efficient legal system processes you through licking-split, showing by charts and graphs the system is far more cost-effective than ever before.

      Tough Sh!t if you, as a nondescript individual, get ground up in the process geared to PROVE your guilt rather than DETERMINE your guilt.

      Welcome to the new “normal”.

  • avatar

    Got my renewal in May. In addition to no smiling, we were instructed to tilt our head down and eyes up. Worst photo ever. My sister said “You look like Dexter!” Gee, thanks sis.

  • avatar

    Work was hectic today so I’m not sure when this article was posted but I’m guessing noon-ish ET.

    So that’s about 7 hours now and only 21 comments including mine. Another JDM minivan article could probably top that (please?).

    Maybe it’s time to deflate the Big Brother parade balloon for a week or so.

  • avatar

    Now you know the story behind those new traffic lights when the old type worked for a century.

  • avatar

    Renewed my license here in Florida last June. I was allowed to keep my glasses on, And was told I could smile. My inner optimist would like to believe we’re still “safe” here. My naturally paranoid self just says they have improved the software.

  • avatar

    This, combined with things like the state’s overzealous, automated photo speed enforcement program (in addition to the Elmwood Place fiasco, another nearby southwestern Ohio town, Hamilton, continues to use an unmarked, privately-owned Ford Escape, moved around daily, no less), has never made me happier that I not long ago made a hasty exit from Ohio.

  • avatar

    Old news. The no smile rule on photos has been happening for at least eight years concerning Passports.

    BTW, I’m sure the conspiracy theory types went into freakout mode when they first added photos to DL’s.

    Do you think we should go back to DL without photos?

    • 0 avatar

      We should probably just ditch DLs altogether. I think most people can agree that they don’t actually exist to ensure any sort of driving skill. Because if that’s their reason for existing, we should repeal them based on the fact they’re such a complete and utter failure.

  • avatar

    My California license has the same photo I took – smiling – about 18 years ago. If you have a clean record and are in a certain age range, they just let you renew by mail, using the old photo. I’m sure when I reach a pre-determined “old geezer” age, things will be different. I keep asking people, and so far, I still look better in person than my photo, so until that reverses, I’m in the clear.

  • avatar

    I totally get the whole civil-liberties thing when the census people (at least here in Canada) bang on your front door and want to know your ethnic background for the government’s records. I can think of quite a few scary uses for this sort of information, and besides that it’s none of their damn business.

    I can also understand how the Big Brother technology bothers people. I read 1984, in 1983 as a matter of fact. Although it is true that the technology is not fundamentally different from a police officer who observes people in public and recognizes a face, it is nonetheless creepy in its efficiency and omnipresence. Who really wants to live like that?

    Where civil libertarians start sounding like anarchist brats, however, is when they argue for the right to run around anonymously in public places with a 3,000 pound weapon. To them I say sorry, but my children share those spaces and their right to safety is more important than your right to privacy. Wanna be a secret agent? Then walk, take the bus, or stay on your own private property. Go nuts. But when blasting through public spaces in a car you have to think about the rights of others, and not just your own.

    • 0 avatar

      “I totally get the whole civil-liberties thing when the census people (at least here in Canada) bang on your front door and want to know your ethnic background for the government’s records. ”

      They’re pretty pushy, and snoopy. It’s like they’re told, “obtain this information at ANY cost.” It’s so important, they threaten you with jail time if you don’t provide it. What kind of country do we really live in?

  • avatar

    Cliff’s notes: Your photograph is entered into a database; some perp does something bad on camera, facial recognition sw matches perp’s face with “likely suspects” list on DL database. End result: steroid-pumped, hyper-militarized SWAT team in MRAPV knocks down your door at two a.m., kills your dog, then you. Win-win. (Almost. But first, the Second Amendment is to be repealed).

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