Passport applicant of Asian descent told to open his eyes

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A New Zealand man of Asian descent had his passport photograph rejected when facial recognition software mistakenly registered his eyes as being closed.

Richard Lee's attempt to renew his passport was blocked after he submitted the picture to an online passport photo checker run by New Zealand's department of internal affairs.

The automated system told the 22-year-old engineering student the photo was invalid because his eyes were closed, even though they were clearly open, according to a copy of the notification posted on social media site Facebook.


Photo Credit: Facebook/Richard Lee

"No hard feelings on my part, I've always had very small eyes and facial recognition technology is relatively new and unsophisticated," Lee told Reuters.

"It was a robot, no hard feelings. I got my passport renewed in the end."

Up to 20 percent of passport photos submitted online are rejected for various reasons, an Internal Affairs spokesman said.

"The most common error is a subject's eyes being closed and that was the generic error message sent in this case," he said.

The lighting in Lee's first photo was uneven, but a later one was accepted, he added.

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I condemn the reprehensible email. Read my statement here: http://t.co/OnxxncQ5l3
There are times when I feel compelled to speak out as a person, and not as a university president. This is one of those times.
The January 2014 email that emerged a few days ago has shaken me.
The utter disregard for decency, the racist invective, the mindless disparaging of sexual consent, has left me angry and profoundly saddened
A president, I will of course ensure due process and protect the free speech guaranteed by our Constitution.
It is one of our nation's core values that the government should not be able to tell us what we can and cannot say.
Protecting speech, however, does not mean agreeing with it.
And quite honestly, I am struggling with justifying this email as free speech.
It has hurt and offended members of our campus family. Including me.
Where does free speech and hate speech collide? What should prevail?
What justification can we have that tacitly condones this kind of hate?
I want to engage in a conversation with you. Are some of you feeling the same way? Post your thoughts, your point of view. #LohChat
Social media can sometimes be uncivil. Let's try to use it to talk about this important issue, to make things better, to heal. #LohChat
I wanted to do this #LohChat with you. #UMD students, faculty, staff and alumni. I welcome your questions and comments.
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