Feeds

Home Office prohibits happy biometric passports

Don't say cheese

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

The Home Office says all new passport photographs must be of an unsmiling face with its gob firmly shut because open mouths can confuse facial recognition systems.

It issued the new guidelines yesterday, The Sun reports, as part of the move towards biometric passports. The new rules come into immediate effect.

Getting computers to recognise faces is notoriously difficult. The theory sounds simple: the system marks each face it encounters on common reference points - the eyes and the tip of the nose for instance - and compares those with faces in its database.

The reality is that it is actually very difficult to do: the angle of each face to the camera must be close to identical to get a good comparison, extra shadows of a face can throw off the reference points, and it seems, teeth are also an overwhelming challenge. Even once these obstacles have been overcome, the accuracy is often low.

The new guidelines state that photographs must have a strong definition between the face and background; be of the full face facing straight at the camera; show no shadows, and that subjects must have "a neutral expression, with your mouth closed".

The guidelines don't apply to existing passports - so there is no need to run out and scowl at a photobooth immediately. Anyone applying for a new or replacement passport must keep their mouth shut in their new picture.

Blunkett will surely be pleased with the tabloid's report. The Sun report confidently tells its readers that "immigration Service officials will run the passport through scanners which will cross-check them against worldwide crime memory banks" and that "the 'biometric' tests ensure that people cannot use stolen or fake documents".

As easy as that, eh? Gosh. We're very relieved to hear it, and we are sure you are too. ®

Get your Blunkett-bashing NO2ID shirt here

Related stories

Everything you never wanted to know about the UK ID card
Glitches in ID card kit frustrate Blunkett's pod people
Biometric recognition gets right in your face
Facial ID as plain as the smile on your face
NEC demos Big Brother biometric phonebooth

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?