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Indiana Bans Driver's License Smiles, For Security 459

Posted by timothy
from the one-doozy-of-an-aha!-moment dept.
Smelly Jeffrey writes "According to a recent article, Indiana BMV Communications Director Dennis Rosebrough states that applicants for a new or renewed operator's license or state identification card will no longer be allowed to smile and say cheese. Apparently new facial recognition software being employed by the state fails to function when the face is distorted by something as innocuous as smiling. Also on the list of taboos are hats, eyeglasses, and hair that hangs down over the face. The article fails to mention, however, the legality of beards, mustaches, and bushy eyebrows." Similar restrictions are in place for the Enhanced Driver License (which serves as a sort of limited passport) implemented by the state of Washington, among others.
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Indiana Bans Driver's License Smiles, For Security

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  • by Gigiya (1022729) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:01AM (#26045859)
    I'd damn well like to keep my awkward smile on my driver's license!
    • by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:11AM (#26045989) Journal
      "In a recent modification of their assessment of the effects of the policy, the Indiana BMV has now estimated that 8 residents will be disappointed about the inability to smile..."
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Easy to fix their little red wagon. go in and intentionally have your face distorted all the time you are there, mention you have a medical condition and they will let you go.

        remember these are DMV people, not the brightest of the population.

      • by theaveng (1243528) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:48AM (#26046427)

        I never smile anyway, but what's with this "you can't wear glasses" rule? That seems really stupid considering I'm always wearing glasses. Will the cops now ask me to remove my glasses so they can compare my face to the drivers license?

        Also:

        Why is Indiana using facial recognition software? Is there now a database of faces that police are searching every time a crime is committed???

        • by timothy (36799) Works for Slashdot on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @11:19AM (#26046791) Homepage Journal

          That is what the E. German border guards were famous for doing, so ... Yes, probably so. Not that this will *actually* happen, but if you meet an especially scrupulous cop (in the sense of scrupulous attention to detail and procedure) then the glasses may come off.

          timothy

        • Last time I flew to Canada via the US, US immigration wanted to take a picture from me _without_ wearing glasses (funny, as you can never find me "in the wild" without wearing glasses ;-).

          On the return flight, US immigration wanted to take a picture of me _with_ glasses.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sonsonete (473442)

          Why is Indiana using facial recognition software? Is there now a database of faces that police are searching every time a crime is committed???

          To combat identity theft. At least that's what the local NPR news said this morning.

          Apparently the BMV plans to compare your new picture when you get a license to all your previous license pictures. If it looks significantly different, they'll take extra steps to ensure that you are, in fact, who you say you are.

          • by radarjd (931774) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @02:16PM (#26049087)

            To combat identity theft. At least that's what the local NPR news said this morning.

            Apparently the BMV plans to compare your new picture when you get a license to all your previous license pictures. If it looks significantly different, they'll take extra steps to ensure that you are, in fact, who you say you are.

            I was at a seminar today where the General Counsel for the Indiana BMV explained the reason for the new regulation in more detail. Apparently, Indiana had been attracting fraudsters who would apply for a driver's license under someone else's name. In order to prevent this, the clerks at the BMV compare all past driver's license photos with the appearance of the person trying to get the new license. If the clerk noticed a discrepancy, the person was flagged and they needed to have a hearing and provide further proof that they are who they say they are to get the license. That has been going on for "some time."

            Under the new system, the photos will be additionally compared using facial recognition software. Further, the system will check faces in its database against one another to determine if someone is getting licenses under multiple names. The software is somewhat limited in that things like smiles and glasses throw it off, hence the regulation.

            In other words, the system isn't trying to make it easier for the police, FBI, interpol, etc. to catch you -- it's trying to make it easier for the BMV to catch people applying for licenses fraudulently. At least, that's what the General Counsel said.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by HTH NE1 (675604)

          I never smile anyway, but what's with this "you can't wear glasses" rule?

          Maybe they're trying to ID that illegal alien vigilante Kal El.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:27AM (#26046173) Homepage Journal

      As those who have read my old sm62704 journals know, I was very nearsighted all my life, until I got a cataract in my left eye that was caused by prescription eyedrops. My eye surgeon implanted a CrystaLens inside it (you will be assimilated, resistance is futile), and my vision in that eye is better than 20/20 now. The doctor said I should no longer have any "corrective lens" restrictions on my driver's license.

      My driving record was exemplary so last time my license was renewed I could have had it done by mail, but I went in anyway, extatic. For the first time in my life I was going to have a license without vision restrictions!

      Also for the first time, I'm smiling in the picture. In light of the circumstances, how could I not?

      And it actually looks like me, unlike every other picture I've ever had on my license. You should vote those morons out of office. A picture of a normally happy person who is frowning does not look like him.

      Note to the mods- "Hoosier" is not an insult. Indiana is known as "the Hoosier State", and that was the motto on their license plates for decades. Indiana's citizens are proud to be hoosiers.

      • by multisync (218450) * on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:45AM (#26046403) Journal

        Note to the mods- "Hoosier" is not an insult

        It's a sad comment on the state of Slashdot's moderation system when you have to preemptively explain a fairly common phrase you used because you have a reasonable expectation that someone will mistake it for "flamebait."

        To take this even further off topic, our local hockey team is called "the Canucks," and the company I work for disperses season ticket amongst the sales staff to use for marketing purposes. The CEO recently complained that he had attempted to send an email three times, but nobody received it and he didn't get a bounce back. Turns out the nanny filters on the mail server quarantined his message due to a racial slur - he'd mentioned that the "Canucks" tickets were available.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by houghi (78078)

        Also for the first time, I'm smiling in the picture. In light of the circumstances, how could I not?

        Do you smile when they pull you over? Probably not.

    • by Cow Jones (615566) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @11:06AM (#26046649)

      If you want a really embarrassing picture on your driver's license, you could always move to Virginia:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owvO640ODwA [youtube.com]

    • Wasn't there a law in Nazi Germany prohibiting laughter in public places?
      I know I've read about it somewhere but I just can't find any reference online at the moment.

      I did find this gem though. [kcimprov.com]

      ATTENTION
      Making any jokes or statements
      during the screening process may
      be grounds for both criminal and
      civil penalties.

      All such matters will be taken
      seriously. We thank you for your
      restraint in this matter.

      TSA Contact Center 1-866-289-9673 www.tsa.gov

  • Speechless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad@arnett.notforhire@org> on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:02AM (#26045873)
    If your anti-terrorist/pedo/freedom/whatever facial recognition software is so sketchy that it can not cope with eyeglasses or facial expressions, it is not doing its job, and neither are you.
    • Re:Speechless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rhsanborn (773855) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:41AM (#26046339)
      In other news, the TSA will begin ramping up security under a new no-smiles initiative. Travelers appearing too happy while traveling through the airport will be stopped and asked to undergo an intensive search, as research has shown that terrorists might smile to get past facial recognition software.*

      *I wish I didn't have to do this, but for the record, the above is satire.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        In other news, the TSA will begin ramping up security under a new no-smiles initiative. Travelers appearing too happy while traveling through the airport will be stopped and asked to undergo an intensive search, as research has shown that terrorists might smile to get past facial recognition software.*

        Oh, so *that's* why TSA are such dicks all the time. If they get you to stop smiling, the software works. See, they're being assholes for our safety!

        • Re:Speechless (Score:5, Informative)

          by PRMan (959735) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @12:15PM (#26047493)

          I'll probably get flamed for this, but the last time I went through Orange County, the TSA agents were actually really nice!

          They smiled. They were polite. They seemed to be serious about their job without being jerks to the passengers. Someone left their expensive camera behind at the security checkpoint and an agent chased them down to give it back to them.

          I have had the other experience, but I just wanted to give them props that were due.

          • Re:Speechless (Score:4, Informative)

            by Ogive17 (691899) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @12:46PM (#26047967)
            My experience tells me that if you act like you know what you're doing (meaning you read the signs that tell you proper line etiquette) they are usually nice and respectable. It's the people that don't remove the change from their pockets.. don't take the laptop out of the bag.. don't take their shoes off until instructed to do so that causes foul moods.

            And not that I blame them. They deal with thousands of people every day who are usually in a hurry and therefore rude to them. I have a short temper with people who can't follow simple directions. Heaven forbid someone who's in line for 20 minutes read one of the 30 signs that tell you to take your shoes off (for example) or the automated announcement every 5 minutes over the PA that tells you what to be ready for.

            I try to be polite when I travel, a simple "thank you" can go a long way..
    • Hopefully its simply that a plain unsmiling face is the best baseline for the stored face, at that point alterations such as glasses or facial expressions can be recognized against the baseline face. HOPEFULLY. Otherwise, YES, FAIL..

    • Oh, it is doing its job, allright...which is to cause the population to live in fear of their being flagged though a false positive which may result in further intrusive, unwarranted search. By the time that you're finally proven innocent of what they originally suspected you for, they may have already found something else with which to charge you.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      That would be true if the object was actually to catch any "perps" at this stage of the game. The object however is at this point only to sell gazillions of dollars of astronomically over-priced "security" equipment and "services" to various governments. And then endlessly "upgrade" them. The actual functionality is at the moment beside the point, all that counts is maintaining appropriate level of hysteria amongst the brainless public.

      When the equipment becomes actually usable, then the object will be to

    • Re:Speechless (Score:5, Informative)

      by NoNeeeed (157503) <`slash' `at' `paulleader.co.uk'> on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:53AM (#26046487) Homepage

      Except that if you read the article (I know, this is /.), you would know that this isn't for any of those purposes. It is to stop people applying for multiple licenses under different identities.

      Facial recognition is very hard to do well*, most systems have terrible accuracy rates. Since all the images in this system are from the same source, the BMV, they may as well try to standardise the images as much as possible to make the system as accurate as possible, reducing the number of misses and false positives.

      * Despite what TV would like you to think. If you think it's easy to do well, you have been watching too much CSI.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Matheus (586080)

      Seriously.. whose software are they using?!? I happen to work for one of the most predominant companies in this business and *none* of these requirements affect our algorithm's ability to match (source image or candidate).

      Apparently our sales team needs to do a better job of picking up these prospective customers. (Or the government needs to stop buying their "big-brother" tools from the lowest bidder)

  • Beards (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:02AM (#26045875) Homepage Journal

    Beards are a great point. In my license picture I have no facial hair, now I have a full beard. My hair is also quite a bit longer. I wouldn't say I look like a completely different person just a mere two years after getting this one taken, but I doubt I would be recognized by this facial recognition software.

    • Re:Beards (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mdwh2 (535323) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:46AM (#26046415) Journal

      Not a problem with the Government's planned ID card scheme. This will require you to notify the Government of "drastic" appearance changes [independent.co.uk], or face a £1,000 fine.

      I don't know if big bushy beards and long hair would count, but it's worrying nonetheless.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pbhj (607776)

      Beards are a great point. In my license picture I have no facial hair, now I have a full beard.

      I've been bearded since I was 16 (except for a brief charity shave). My perception is that my appearance changes a lot with my changing facial hair - others barely notice because they are looking at different things.

      I'm pretty sure that a full beard will reduce the effectiveness of matches but not by a lot - I'd imagine eye position and spacing, nose and brow alignment, ear position and size, head width and height would provide pretty good identifying factors. Sure, obscuring mouth and chin position isn't g

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:03AM (#26045879)
    ...that it can bet beat by a simple smile, much less something like a beard or actual disguise. Another one of those government boondoggles that's supposed to make us feel safe, but actually just wastes money and effort.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SirGarlon (845873)
      It's not supposed to make us feel safe. It's supposed to make the police feel like they're in control of the herd^H^H^H^H citizenry. After all, it's law enforcement agencies, not the general public, that is falling all over themselves to acquire these dodgy systems.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by QuantumRiff (120817)

      I think its more of a testament to the Indiana DMV. I know in my state, nobody feels like smiling after waiting in line at the DMV!

    • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:21AM (#26046099)

      Its okay, terrorists never smile ...

    • by DFJA (680282)
      Just remember to keep your cheesy grin all the time you're at the airport, and you'll be perfectly OK.
  • Note to self: Don't shave for the week before getting driver's license renewed. Also wear old, ugly glasses instead of current glasses.

  • is a smile or a pair of eyeglasses. What a stupid waste of taxpayer dollars.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:04AM (#26045903)

    ... is for those people who don't want to be detected by the recognition software to go around smiling when in the view of cameras that use it?

  • When buying your booze (and being carded) or being pulled over for speeding, you're generally annoyed, surprised or just plain ticked off, right?

    So perhaps the driver's license photo should be graced with one of those common expressions.

  • I'm not sure what is new in this article: in France (and I bet in many other country too), this is already the case for ID card, passport..
    Not smiling when the photography is taken feels very weird, but that's not a big issue, though I would guess that parents trying to make their children not smiling for the photography may disagree.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by smaerd (954708)
      Kind of hard to get your six-year-old a driver's license in Indiana, anyways.
      • Kind of hard to get your six-year-old a driver's license in Indiana, anyways.

        Six-year-olds in Indiana are eligible for non-driver identification cards just like everyone else. I don't see how this regulation distinguishes between identification cards that include vs. don't include a license to drive on public highways.

  • Missed Opportunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PMuse (320639) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:11AM (#26045985)

    Why not tell people, "you can smile if you want to for your license, but we also have to shoot a picture of you not smiling"? Then, record both images, so that the recognition software has two looks available for that individual. Heck, get a shot of them with and without glasses, too.

    This approach would make people happy, promote friendliness, and improve security.

  • Papers, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rinisari (521266) * on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:12AM (#26046003) Homepage Journal

    Real ID [google.com] should make any sensible person cringe. Take five minutes and read how the federal government has mandated a variety of criteria for states' drivers licenses, the cost of which to the states is in the millions and is entirely unfunded (not to mention unconstitutional!) and poorly executed in states where it has been effected.

    Take a moment today to call your state legislators and see where they stand on your states' Real ID compliance. If they oppose it, congratulate them and consider donating to their campaign. If they support it, swear on your mother's grave to see them unseated and replaced with a responsible legislator.

    • Re:Papers, please. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kabocox (199019) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:41AM (#26046345)

      Real ID should make any sensible person cringe. Take five minutes and read how the federal government has mandated a variety of criteria for states' drivers licenses, the cost of which to the states is in the millions and is entirely unfunded (not to mention unconstitutional!) and poorly executed in states where it has been effected.

      I think opposing Real ID should make any sensible person cringe. Why? Because it doesn't mandate any "new" criteria that almost every state isn't already collecting on you if you have a drivers license. What it is doing is trying to make the 50 states DLs uniform. Those that really oppose it don't like it solely based on money issues. Privacy issues aren't even a real issue with it as you are already submitting that same info to the state any way. Now why do states oppose this based on money issues? Base some states have had statewide RMSs for police for years and it fairly trival in their state for their police to read their state DL licenses and import into their RMSs and it's mainly been paid for once. The thing is it would be nice if the police from TX, CA, FL, NY could just as easily read other states as their own. That's the entire issue that some already have their system in place and don't want to change even if the feds paid every penny.

      I think this'll something like NIBRS or UCR where the feds would like the states to do it, but realistically it won't be until the next big change in RMS for those states that currently oppose this to even consider adopting it. At that time, they'll whine that they want to keep their current format as well.

      • Re:Papers, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rinisari (521266) * on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:56AM (#26046531) Homepage Journal

        21 states have rejected it because it would be too expensive, too invasive, and/or pretty much unconstitutional.

        Pennsylvania's Dept. of Transportation effected many of the points of Real ID without an edict from the PA legislature, and there are many legislators not pleased with this. One point required a multimillion dollar contract with a security firm whose technology was cracked reliably just a few months later (I wish I could find evidence on the 'net of this, but I trust the person who told me, as he's been following Real ID religiously since it was introduced).

        You're advocating a national ID card, essentially. That's one stop shopping for identity thieves--just like social security numbers are now--and it won't do a thing to stop "terrorists" and other malfeasant souls. It's also terribly close to the "papers, please" seen in many places throughout time.

      • Re:Papers, please. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by theaveng (1243528) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:59AM (#26046555)

        >>>What it is doing is trying to make the 50 states DLs uniform.

        "I have searched but I cannot lay my hand on the part of the Constitution that grants the U.S. that power." - James Madison. QED the law is unconstitutional.

        Of course so is the U.S. law that mandates drinking age be 21 and forced many states to change their age of consent from 18 to 21. I still don't understand that one... even though I agree with age 21 I think the decision should be left to each government for its own specific region. If Wyoming wants the drinking age to be 18, let Wyoming do so. I don't live there, so what do I care what the Wyomingites do?

        • Re:Papers, please. (Score:5, Informative)

          by ttuegel (737533) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @11:31AM (#26046965)
          The law doesn't actually force the states into making the drinking age 21. As is usual, when Congress anticipates the "that's unconstitutional!" outcry, they, rather than mandate it, make some funding conditional upon it. So, federal interstate highway funding in your state is conditional upon the 21 drinking age and the 0.08% legal limit of intoxication. But the federal government didn't "mandate" it. Neat trick, huh?
      • Excuse me, but NO. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Svartalf (2997)

        WHY was your post modded insightful? You present an argument, but don't back it up. They already HAVE the ability to look up most state licenses right now without this amongst other things.

        It does NOTHING of what you think it will.
        It does NOTHING of what they claim it will.

        Trying to make them more uniform does nothing for security.

        Trying to make them all be in a single database (i.e. One of the other requirements of RealID) makes it easier to hack in or grab a single ID and go to town with ID theft. (Niii

  • The article fails to mention, however, the legality of beards, mustaches, and bushy eyebrows.

    'cause we all know, unibrow == unibomber

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:19AM (#26046089)

    Also on the list of taboos are hats, eyeglasses, and hair that hangs down over the face.

    So I guess Slash is out entirely.

  • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:22AM (#26046107)

    Residents of Indiana will no longer be allowed to smile in public when the Homeland Security Alert Level is Orange or Red, to improve security. Image recognition software is not able to easily recognize and track citizens movements if they smile, which causes terrorism and child pornography.

  • So the cameras can get images that will match the photos, it is also prohibited to smile in:

    • Airports
    • Train stations
    • Subways
    • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
    • Federal buildings
    • State buildings
    • Post offices
    • Traffic court
    • Traffic
    • Within 100 miles of the national border
    • Video phone/chat
    • Public
    • Private, in case you are under surveillance
  • I don't get the point of the !liberty tag here. Technically your liberty went out the window the moment you had to get licensed to drive in the first place, making this a moot point viz-a-vis liberty. That said, this can be a good thing because one of the controversies in Britain has been with making Muslim women take off their veils to get a state ID. Only in multicultural, bureaucratic lala land could a photo of a woman with a veil be considered part of a photo ID, but with this sort of thing in place, ho

  • Not Even Realtime (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:23AM (#26046123)

    BMV Communications Director Dennis Rosebrough said if a criminal went to get a driver's license under his name, the criminal's photograph would be compared to an old photograph of Rosebrough and the BMV could be alerted the next day that the two don't match.

    This system isn't even realtime. What good does it do if a criminal gets away with a state-issued ID a full 36 hours before anyone knows that he shouldn't?

    • Typical Slashdot attitude: if it's not perfect, it's completely useless!

      There is a lot of utility in catching this sort of thing after the fact. 36 hours is actually a very short amount of time. I don't really approve of these automatic biometric identifiers but objecting to it because it takes a day to discover a problem is just nonsensical.

  • Whenever your not at the DMV, wear glasses/smile/frown/etc...

    They'll never know its you.

  • by CommandoCody (1154955) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:24AM (#26046141)

    Also on the list of taboos are hats, eyeglasses...

    Local reaction: Newspaper reporter Clark Kent was quoted as protesting this in the strongest possible terms, while wealthy socialite Bruce Wayne said he didn't really see this as a problem.

  • by ciderVisor (1318765) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @10:29AM (#26046197)
    Amazon needs to be taken down under the Patriot Act:

    http://www.amazon.com/Groucho-Glasses-Fake-Mustache-Brows/dp/B001HHECYU [amazon.com]
  • This is a pretty normal precaution. Apparently, smiling allows you to distort your face enough to allow others a better chance of passing themselves off as you.

    Of course, keep in mind that the photo is for humans to do facial recognition.

    I wouldn't be too concerned.

  • neither the joker [about.com] nor rachael ray [wikipedia.org] can get a driver's license

    is it just me or does her mouth weird anyone else out? it extends beyond natural dimensions into a creepy permanent smile

  • I'm at the freaking DMV! I've been at the freaking DMV for hours!! By the time my picture is taken, I'm definitely not smiling!!!

  • Frown when they are taking the ID photo and grin from ear to ear when driving! ;D
  • "NO, this is NOT a combover, my hair grows like that!"

  • makes me a sad panda. :\


    Actually, you know what, I'm not even sad but the law makes me look like I am.

    Great, now I'm actually sad.
  • However it isn't to do with facial recognition as such. UK passports (and some others I believe) are fitted with chips which store a fingerprint of the face (presumably encoded in some way) which describes the geometry of the face. This allows the photo in the passport to be confirmed against the chip, preventing someone from nicking your passport and replacing the photo. Eventually it will be possible for the passport's data to be confirmed against a record held on a central system.

    The restrictions make

  • My license expires this year. I am TOTALLY wearing this t-shirt [zazzle.com] when I renew!

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @11:21AM (#26046825)
    Does having a long, 1900's mustache short-circuit computer face detection? If so, this means that Snidely Whiplash was a visionary with a keen sense of crinimal discretion. This would also confirm what I've always known - that Ned Flanders is a dangerous man on the run and that the Pringles guy is a criminal mastermind.
  • This is new? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Deadstick (535032) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @11:33AM (#26046979)

    When I was photographed for a military ID card in 1962 I was told to relax every facial muscle, no expression whatever.

    rj

  • Easy Crack (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @11:48AM (#26047165)
    This is easy to crack. Don't smile for your DL picture, and do smile the rest of the time. It will make the world a better place in the process.
  • by anorlunda (311253) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @04:31PM (#26050893) Homepage

    The secret is out. From now on, if you ever commit a crime in Illinois within range of a surveillance camera, be sure to smile as you do it.

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