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Nation soon to ban smiling on drivers' license photographs

By Nancy Houser     Sep 22, 2012 in Crime
In an effort to weed out the bad guys, the FBI is rolling out a nation-wide facial recognition system. Soon, it will be illegal for drivers to smile on their driver's license photographs, as exaggerated smiles prevent the software from working properly.
According to ABC News, "New Jersey resident Velvet McNeil told the Philadelphia Inquirer Thursday that when she went to get her license at her local New Jersey motor vehicle center, she was told she could not smile for her photo. Shocked, McNeil said she walked out of the center. 'Your picture means a lot,' she told the newspaper. 'It’s who you are.' "
Business Insider reports that the agency's $1 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) program will include iris scans, DNA analysis and voice identification by the year 2014. Currently, 27 states run the new program.
One of the first states to adopt the new system, New Jersey's vehicle department, said that was no current law that bans smiling per se, but smiling "as if you won a $5 million dollar lottery" would not be accepted as it is considered an exaggerated facial expression.
Facial recognition software conducts facial recognition scrubs, allowing the FBI and other governmental agencies to check over 19 million faces for situations involving terrorists, criminals and victims. Currently, FBI records consist of wanted persons, sex offender registry subjects and known or suspected terrorists.
The new software also is used without glasses and head wear, with eyes wide open, in order for it to work properly. The only exception would be for religious purposes. A software program similar to the one used in the CBS television show, Persons of Interest, the NGI program is a collaborative effort among the FBI bureau, the CJIS Advisory Policy Board and members of the Compact Council, in addition to local, state, federal, and international representatives for monitoring the population.
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