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New Zealander says passport photo rejection 'not racist'

image copyrightReuters/Richard Lee

A New Zealander of Asian descent has shrugged off the rejection of a passport application photo by software because of his eyes.

The system sent an error message after deciding Richard Lee's eyes were closed, when they are clearly open.

It was not racism he suggested. "It was a robot. No hard feelings."

The DJ and aerospace engineering student had submitted the photo to an online photo checker at New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs.

"No hard feelings on my part, I've always had very small eyes and facial recognition technology is relatively new and unsophisticated," the 22-year-old told Reuters.

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Mr Lee is studying in Melbourne, Australia.

Born in Taiwan but brought up in New Zealand, he was trying to renew his passport so he could return to Australia after a Christmas break in New Zealand.

After contacting the Department of Internal Affairs, he was told there was too much shadow in his eyes. Another photo was later accepted and the passport renewed.

A department spokesman said up to 20% of photos submitted online were rejected, usually because the subject's eyes are closed.

"That was the generic error message sent in this case," he said.

Related Topics

  • Passports
  • New Zealand

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