Feeds

Home Office prohibits happy biometric passports

Don't say cheese

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.