Feeds

Government outlaws Photoshopped passport pics

But baulks at debate on representative art

High performance access to file storage

Since the UK Passport Service started to go digital last year, some applicants have run into a little Rise of the Machines-related trouble. Maybe your skin's the wrong colour (which takes you back, but they don't mean it in the old sense), or your baby's too shiny, or for some reason won't look straight at the camera.

People who look like people as far as other people are concerned do not always look like what the UKPS photo digitisation system thinks people ought to look like. Hence, the photo is rejected and the applicant is encouraged to try to look more like the UKPS' concept of what they should look like. It seemed clear to us when the new photo guidelines were announced that the sensible thing to do would be to snap yourself digitally and then give yourself a quick Photoshopping, adding or subtracting tan as necessary, matting yourself up a tad and knocking your teeth out, should the raw image exhibit an excess of Jenny Agutter (only a machine could conceive of such an "excess" being possible, surely).

Obviously we didn't mention this at the time because if it came to the Home Office's attention that it was poised on the brink of a nightmare philosophical argument about art, images and representation, it would put a stop to it right away. Which it now has. According to Home Office Minister Andy Burnham guidance was updated in December to advise "customers" that "the digital enhancement of photographs was not recommended." Actually the guidance was updated in the old news announcement, which hardly anybody's going to read now, but seems not to be present in the standard guidance that most people will consult. Joined up government in action.

No matter, because it's a bit of a cop-out anyway. Given that UKPS remains happy about receiving pictures taken by digital cameras and produced by digital printers (1200dpi or better recommended), we really need a better definition of what it means by digital enhancement. If the enhancements are part of the camera's standard processes, then is that OK? Shouldn't whatever it is that UKPS' systems are doing to the picture count as digital enhancement, and if so, why is it OK for them but not for you? Is it just a case of you not being supposed to make yourself look prettier (e.g. spot removal)? Would it be OK to make yourself uglier (digital degradation)?

The announcement has, as you see, merely postponed the Home Office's long overdue debate on the nature and purpose of representative art. Perhaps someone should ask Culture, Media and Sport instead. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Ex–Apple CEO John Sculley: Ousting Steve Jobs 'was a mistake'
Twenty-nine years later, post-Pepsi exec has flat-forehead moment
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
Number crunching suggests Yahoo! US is worth less than nothing
China and Japan holdings worth more than entire company
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.