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By Ryan Pickrell

Facial recognition software rejected a New Zealand man’s passport photo after registering his eyes as closed, even though they were clearly open.

Richard Lee, who was born in Taiwan but raised in New Zealand, ran into trouble when he tried to renew his passport, Reuters reports.

Racist passport robot tells person of Asian descent to open his eyes.


The online passport photo checker managed by New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs told the 22-year-old engineering student that his photo did not match their criteria.

“The photo you want to upload does not meet our criteria because: subject eyes are closed,” the software explained to Lee.

After his peculiar encounter with New Zealand’s software, Lee posted his story the report on Facebook.

Lee called the Department of Internal Affairs and was told that the photo was rejected because of “uneven lighting on the face.”

“No hard feelings on my part, I’ve always had very small eyes and facial recognition technology is relatively new and unsophisticated,” Lee told Reuters.

“It was a robot, no hard feelings. I got my passport renewed in the end,” he added.

New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs reported that about 20 percent of all photos submitted are rejected for various reasons, with the subject’s eyes being closed being the main reason.

The department said it was a generic response.

Lee submitted another photo later, and that photo was reportedly accepted.

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