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For Immediate Release
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
October 28, 2004

Department of Homeland Security Adopts Facial Recognition Standard

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced today the adoption of its first biometric facial recognition standard. The standard is designed to be consistent with international standards for biometrics used in such applications as travel documents. This standard will also be used to specify definitions of photographic properties and digital image attributes, and as a standards format for relevant applications, including human examination and computer automated face recognition.

"Secretary Ridge and I are pleased to release the Department.s biometric standard face recognition formats today," said Dr. Charles McQueary, Under Secretary for Science and Technology. "This standard will help improve our long-term security by facilitating the interchange of digitally stored photographs, regardless of what equipment is used to take or to display the images."

Homeland security professionals will use the standard as technical criteria upon which to design equipment such as cameras and software for facial recognition. The standard supports visual human facial comparison and computer automated comparisons for watch list checks and for computer identification and verification. It also facilitates the interchange of photographs across systems, and will assist in the future development of interoperable biometric applications.

"The Department, through the US-VISIT Program, has already moved forward with extensive work on biometrics and facial recognition standards. The adaptation of facial recognition standards is a first step in standardizing all types of biometrics which is essential for the success of Homeland Security programs," said Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson.

This standard was developed by the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), a standards development organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Homeland Security and its partners will continue to work on a regular basis with INCITS to revise these standards as biometric technology evolves. The standard (INCITS 385) is available from INCITS ( and from ANSI (

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology division serves as the primary research and development arm of the Department, utilizing our nation.s scientific and technological resources to provide federal, state and local officials with the technology and capabilities to protect the homeland.

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