DMV officials say the smile ban is for a good cause. The agency would like to develop a facial recognition system that could compare customers’ photographs over time to prevent fraud and identity theft. “The technology works best when the images are similar,” said DMV spokeswoman Pam Goheen. “To prepare for the possibility of future security enhancements, we’re asking customers to maintain a neutral expression.”
People smile for their driver’s license photos? I have four different photo IDs handy, and I’m not smiling in any of them. The last time I got a photo taken for a passport, the guy operating the camera asked if I wanted it taken again, before he printed it out. My face was centered and my eyes were open, so my response was, “It’s a passport photo” (i.e. not a portrait). He replied that he had a lot of customers ask for a re-shoot because they felt the photo wasn’t very flattering. At which point I would say: I refer my honourable friend to the reply that I gave some moments ago (British Parliament. C-Span. Catch the fever.)
The fraud mentioned above is duplicate licenses — they match your photo with those already in the system. And your name and address, I presume, if they are attempting to eliminate identity theft.