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Australian group proposes biometrics, UK lowers age to speed up border crossings

Facial recognition for more US cruises
Australian group proposes biometrics, UK lowers age to speed up border crossings

With the summer travel season heating up, more travelers are rushing to foreign destinations with more biometric checks at the Australian, UK and U.S. borders.

Australia wants a facial recognition-equipped border crossing with New Zealand

The Australian tourism industry is pushing for a “seamless” travel experience between the continent and its neighbor New Zealand with the help of facial recognition technology.

Streamlining the trans-Tasman border crossing process with tech like facial recognition and digital arrival cards are being proposed to cut queues. It could be used as a test case for introducing similar systems at other border crossings, Margy Osmond, CEO of the Tourism and Transport Forum industry group told The Australian (subscription required).

The industry group is hoping to establish a joint task force to develop and implement the reforms before the end of the year.
“Border formalities could be slashed by linking each passenger’s travel documentation to ¬facial recognition technology,” she said. “You could identify trans-Tasman passengers as they pass various points between baggage check-in and boarding their aircraft, without them needing to stop or ¬produce passports, travel documents or even boarding passes.”

Australia launched a biometric identification system designed to optimize passenger visa and border processing in 2020. The system was built in partnership with Unisys and Idemia.

UK allows children aged 10 and 11 to use e-gates

After long traffic jams were recorded as families rushed to their summer holidays, the UK government has announced that children aged 10 and 11 will be able to use passport e-gates at the UK borders. Currently, only eligible children aged 12 and above can use the e-gates that use facial recognition to compare the passenger’s face with passport images.

Slow border crossings and e-gates failures have been an ongoing issue after Brexit for both UK residents and EU citizens.

The new rule has been introduced after successful trials at four British airports, The Telegraph reports. The UK currently has e-gates installed at 13 airports and UK border controls at the Eurostar terminals in Brussels and Paris. More than 400,000 children aged 10 and 11 are expected to use the e-gates system this year.

The UK has outlined a plan this year to introduce more biometrics into border crossings. This includes the UK Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) which requires certain travelers to the UK to register their biometric data before traveling to the UK, similar to the U.S. ESTA and the EU’s ETIAS.

US cruise line expands facial recognition passenger registration

Florida-based Carnival Cruise Line is expanding the use of facial biometric technology to speed up passenger debarkation during the busy summer months.

The international cruise line currently operates nine homeports with facial biometrics in partnership with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Passengers can register at a kiosk by taking a photo which is then compared to their passport or visa photo by the Department of Homeland Security systems. The introduction of the technology has helped it speed up the debarkation process by an average of 30 percent, the company said in a release.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in March that its biometric facial comparison system has been used by more than 276 million travelers at air, land, and seaports. The system has managed to prevent over 1,700 impostors from illegally entering the United States, according to the agency.

Carnival claims to be the largest cruise line, based on passengers carried. It is one of the nine cruise lines owned by the world’s largest cruise ship operator, the American-British Carnival Corporation & plc.

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