What’s the Problem Exactly? Digital Photo SB 483

Kaye Beach

April 10, 2009

Question posed by a friend-(condensed.  entire question bottom of post)

I think we need to clarify some of information on this digital photos issue with SB 483.  I’m not going to pretend to know everything about exactly what you mean, but when you keep saying digital photos, it comes off as either tinfoil-hatted or naive to me as I’m sure it does to many.  I’m sure there’s something to this, but the term digital photo just isn’t conveying it to me.
I’m not doubting you at all that there is something to be concerned about, and it may very well be in what manner they use to take the photos, but when you say allowing them to take digital photos for IDs is going to allow them more control of biometric information, the term doesn’t quite explain why, nor when the term is used in your arguments does it make any more sense to me.  There has to be a better way of describing what they are doing.  If there isn’t, I think we need to be proposing a superior alternative to digital photography for tax payers.

Response-

I hope you don’t mind me answering your question on my blog-but as you indicated, if you are wondering others are too.

 My head is so crammed with info on this subject it is nearly impossible for me to approach the subject simply or rather I try and overshoot.  When I say digital as if that had some special meaning what I should explain is that it takes a digitized photograph of specific quality to be used for biometric purposes and that is the significance.  Digital is as common as dirt.

Let me try to convey exactly the issue with regard to digital photos.

Facial recognition technology makes a map of the face.  The program or software used to render biometric data from the photo requires a certain pixel count or resolution to in order to read this “map” properly.

 The lower the pixel count, the less accurate biometric facial recognition is.   International standards call for 90 pixels between eye centers.  Our DMV photos, by design, meet this standard as was called for by the Real ID Act of 2005. 

The difference between the international standard for digital photos to be used as biometric samples and a resolution that is approximate a quarter of the resolution required by the ICAO’s (International Civil Aviation Standards) 90 pixels between the eyes is practically indistinguishable since these photos are not printed at high resolution anyways, so there is no reason except for the facial recognition requirements to photograph with such detail. And the purpose for this standard is so that we have a globally interoperable system for data exchange.

I am not an expert in photography so I will have to check to be sure, but I believe that many if not most digital cameras operate easily at this resolution.

I appreciate you asking this question.  I wish everyday to prove this fear wrong so that I can go back to my normal life and pursuits and the more I know….the worse it gets so far.

Thanks!

AxXiom

 

 Read this letter to the IACOhttp://www.privacyinternational.org/issues/terrorism/rpt/icaobackground.html

Original question in full;

I think we need to clarify some of information on this digital photos issue with SB 483. I’m not going to pretend to know everything about exactly what you mean, but when you keep saying digital photos, it comes off as either tinfoil-hatted or naive to me as I’m sure it does to many. I’m sure there’s something to this, but the term digital photo just isn’t conveying it to me.

Just the term “digital photo” indicates to me an image taken by digital means, such as a digital camera. Nothing very ominous about that at all. The only thing opposite to this would be capturing an image by some analog means, such as 35mm film or photographic plates. Obvious beneficial reasons to going to digital photography are that it’s cheaper, images are easier to reproduce, and easier to store. These are all things most tax payers can appreciate. Additionally, even if photos were taken by an analog method, could they not be readily converted to a digital image via a high resolution scanner? Sure, it leaves the possibility for a rendering error, but in the end, they get the image anyway. Proportions of the face, a metric commonly used in facial recognition, will remain the same, assuming the analog photo is copied properly. To note, analog photography is always more capable of higher resolution, and thus higher quality, images than digital photography. This is because all analog signal transmission has the potential for infinite signal resolution.

I’m not doubting you at all that there is something to be concerned about, and it may very well be in what manner they use to take the photos, but when you say allowing them to take digital photos for IDs is going to allow them more control of biometric information, the term doesn’t quite explain why, nor when the term is used in your arguments does it make any more sense to me. There has to be a better way of describing what they are doing. If there isn’t, I think we need to be proposing a superior alternative to digital photography for tax payers.

Greg

PS

http://www.samson.de/pdf_en/l150en.pdf

The first few pages are basic explanation of how signals are digitized. The process works the same for converting any sort of wave pattern from an analog to digital, whether it be sound waves, light waves, or radio waves. All digitization is doing is converting the continuously variable line of the wave into a series of 1’s and 0’s.

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