Facial recognition technology is now being used to verify disembarking passengers’ identity at the Port of Baltimore under a plan announced Monday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in partnership with the Maryland Port Administration and Carnival Cruise Line.
This entry process aims to “further secure and enhance the customer experience while protecting the privacy of all travelers,” the agency said in a news release.
Passengers will pause to have their picture taken when disembarking at a U.S. seaport. That picture will then be corroborated with a passport or visa photo already in Department of Homeland Security databases to authenticate their identity, according to the CBP.
The release said facial biometrics are more than 98% accurate and enable officials to verify identity more quickly — within two seconds. .
U.S. travelers and some foreign nationals may opt out of the biometric process if they meet requirements by requesting a manual document check from a CBP officer.
All traveler photos of U.S. citizens are deleted and never shared with industry partners, according to the CBP website.
Stephen Maloney, CBP’s director of field operations for the Baltimore Field Office, said the expansion of biometric facial comparison at air, land and seaports of entry “has been critical to enhancing our nation’s security, streamlining travel efficiency and improving customer experience, while protecting the privacy of all travelers.”
Facial biometric comparison technology is available at 14 seaports across the United States and has been used to process arriving passengers on cruise vessels in Florida, New Jersey, New York, Texas, California, Washington, Louisiana, Alabama, Puerto Rico, and now Maryland, the CBP said.
As of June, CBP has used facial biometrics to prevent more than 1,500 impostors using genuine travel documents from illegally entering the United States at air and land ports of entry, the release said.