Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday 9 January 2006

Smiling not allowed in Big Brother's passport 'mug shots'

It seems that as part of this government's desire to 'enhance' the way it documents the citizens who pay for it, new rules have been put into place, from 12th September last, governing the photographs submitted for use in British passports. As a result "597,863 applications in the eight weeks from 12 September some 81,927 photos - 13.7% - were rejected". The rules specify that:
- The photo must be 45mm by 35mm and printed on normal photographic paper;
- The photo is taken against an off-white, cream or light grey background;
- Subjects look straight ahead with mouths shut and "neutral" expressions;
- Subjects are on their own in the picture and their head and shoulders take up 65% to 75% of the frame.

Some of these new rules look anodyne, but the one about having a "neutral" expression seems highly subjective to me. Who judges what is "neutral" and what if one has a stuffy nose? How is one supposed to breathe? Naturally this is all part of Big Brother's strategy of having us all become conformist helots who accept without question that our government is acting in our best interests and that enhancing machine-readability is more important than preventing the inevitable bureaucratic 'screw-up's that are all too likely to occur by over-reliance on mechanised checking. Really, I begin to wonder whether they would have us all bar-coded or implanted with computer chips if they thought that even the notoriously acquiescent British public would not rise up and throw these blackguards out if they suggested it!

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