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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Toothy smiles prohibited on Idaho driver’s licenses

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles is no longer allowing people to flash a big grin when they get their pictures taken for a new driver's license.

DMV spokesman Jake Melder told the Idaho Statesman ( the change is due to a new facial recognition software designed to help stop identity theft.

The no-smile policy went into effect last fall, but officials are still working out details and have yet to launch the software.

Melder said people can still smile for their driver's license pictures, but "you can't be showing teeth."

The goal of the facial recognition software is to prevent people from getting licenses under different names.

Melder said the data it collects will be kept by the state, but law enforcement agencies could request access to the information.

Some privacy-rights groups and individuals oppose the facial recognition software because of concerns about how the government will use the personal data.

Once Idaho gets the new software up and running it will join a list of other states that have implemented the technology. By 2013, about three-quarters of all states were using facial-recognition technology in driver's license registries, according to a tally by The Washington Post.

Idaho currently has 1.4 million active driver's licenses, including more than 300,000 in Ada County, according to DMV data.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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