Computer rejects man’s passport photo as it mistook his eyes were closed

The passport renewal application of a man of Asian descent in New Zealand has been rejected after the facial recognition software that approves photos mistook his eyes as being closed.

22-year-old disc jockey and student Richard Lee tried to renew his passport online and submitted a photo to the Department of Affairs website, but the agency’s online photo checker rejected the picture Lee submitted because the software has mistakenly registered his eyes as closed.

Image from Richard Lee's Facebook account
Image from Richard Lee’s Facebook account

Although Lee submitted a front-facing picture with his eyes clearly open, the website notified Lee that the photo he submitted was rejected. A copy of the notification was posted on Facebook. It read: “The photo you want to upload does not meet our criteria – Subject eyes are closed.”

As per the Telegraph, Lee was forced to call the department after its website repeatedly rejected the photo he submitted. He was told that his photo was rejected because uneven lighting and a shadow around his eyes.

Lee, who was born in Taiwan and grew up in New Zealand, had new pictures taken, and one of them was approved.

Lee just laughed the incident off.

“No hard feelings on my part, I’ve always had very small eyes and facial recognition technology is relatively new and unsophisticated. It was a robot, no hard feelings. I got my passport renewed in the end,” he said.


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