Guarding Identities at Virginia's DMV

Friday, May 29, 2009

Nick Miroff's May 28 front-page article, "As if It Needed to, Virginia Bans Smiles at the DMV," was an unacceptable, opinion-laden cheap shot at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Your readers deserve unbiased reporting. The facts:

In conjunction with Virginia's new secure driver's licenses and central issuance process, the DMV is taking steps for possible future security enhancements. The DMV may use technology to compare customer photos taken today to photos taken in the future. The technology compares facial features to ensure a match. This technology works best when the photos are similar -- for example, when a customer has a neutral expression in both photos vs. a neutral expression in one photo and a smile in another.

Using technology to ensure matching photos, the DMV can further reduce the risks of fraud and identity theft.

The DMV does not use the technology today. However, by capturing neutral-expression photos today, the agency will be in a position to implement photo comparison sooner rather than later, if funding and authorization are granted for the technology.

Regarding the smiley-face stickers at the camera station: The mouths are closed with no teeth displayed. Smiley hasn't lost his identity in his 40-plus years. The DMV is working to help keep your identity secure, too.


Director of Communications

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles


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