Cruise Industry Compliance Tips: Enhancing the Traveler Experience with Facial Recognition

Jeffrey N. RosenthalDavid J. Oberly, Jeanne M. Grasso, and Douglas J. Shoemaker

In the past few years, the commercial use of facial recognition technology has advanced at an explosive rate, expanding into numerous industries and trades. For instance, facial biometrics is increasingly relied on by airlines and airports across the globe; a similar trend is starting to take hold in the maritime industry, particularly in the cruise sector.  

While this expansion is occurring, states and cities across the country—as well as the federal government—are attempting to enact strict laws regulating the use of facial recognition technology by commercial entities. Facial recognition has also recently emerged as an increasingly popular target for bet-the-company privacy class action litigation.

As the cruise industry moves toward the widespread adoption of facial recognition technology, companies should implement robust, adaptable biometric privacy programs to ensure compliance with today’s growing body of law to reap the benefits of this exciting technology while mitigating liability exposure.

Overview Facial Recognition Technology

Facial recognition technology involves the use of facial “biometrics”—i.e., the individual physical characteristics of a person’s face—to digitally map one’s facial “geometry.” These measurements are then used to create a mathematical formula known as a “facial template” or “facial signature.” This stored template/signature is then used to compare the physical structure of an individual’s face to identify that individual.

Continue reading “Cruise Industry Compliance Tips: Enhancing the Traveler Experience with Facial Recognition”

MARPOL Electronic Recordkeeping—Finally a Reality

Joan M. Bondareff and Dana S. Merkel

Joan M. BondareffLong-awaited amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (“MARPOL”) entered into force on October 1, 2020, which expressly permit the use of electronic record books for certain MARPOL-required logs. Although the United States reserved its decision regarding adoption of the amendments when they were approved by the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”) in May 2019, the United States ultimately accepted their adoption in accordance with the tacit acceptance procedure. This is a significant and welcomed development.


Electronic record books have been the subject of much debate and consideration at the IMO and within the United States for a number of years. During MEPC 74 in May 2019, amendments were approved, revising MARPOL Annexes I, II, V, and VI to allow the use of electronic record books approved by the vessels’ Administration for the Oil Record Book (“ORB”), Cargo Record Book, Garbage Record Book, and Annex VI air pollution prevention recordkeeping requirements. In adopting the amendments, the IMO stated the use of electronic record books “should be encouraged as it may have many benefits for the retention of records by companies, crew, and officers.” These amendments entered into force on October 1, 2020, although a number of flag States believed the previous MARPOL language provided them with the discretion to allow the use of electronic record books and had already approved their use on vessels for some years. Even so, the permissibility of using electronic record books to meet MARPOL requirements is now clear.

Continue reading “MARPOL Electronic Recordkeeping—Finally a Reality”

Marine Plastic Pollution

Joan M. Bondareff and Dana S. Merkel

Joan M. BondareffAs the inveterate pundit Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” This could very well be said for our disposable society, which uses and disposes tons of plastic in ways that are not wise and negatively impact the health of our oceans and sea life within. Although many reports focus on larger plastics, microplastics, which go largely unnoticed, are also wreaking havoc on our oceans. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that come from a variety of sources, both from degradation of larger plastics and from tiny manufactured plastics that are added to many health and beauty products as exfoliants. Recent surveys by Australian scientists estimate that there are at least 14 million tons of microplastics on the ocean floor, with higher concentrations where plastics accumulate at the surface of the water. 

Finding a Solution

Scientists are working hard to find a solution to the plastic problem—particularly the fact that plastic never completely breaks down, but rather only breaks into smaller and smaller pieces. A number of new and interesting ideas have been proposed, such as plastic-eating caterpillars and super enzymes. However, until we have a better system for breaking up plastics harmlessly, we need to develop plans for reducing and recovering marine plastic waste.  

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Blank Rome Highly Ranked in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2021 “Best Law Firms”

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that our Firm was nationally ranked in 29 practice areas and regionally ranked in 79 practice areas in the 2021 “Best Law Firms” survey by U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers

Earlier this year, Blank Rome was also recognized in the 2021 Best Lawyers in America survey, which ranked 114 of our attorneys in the annual categories of “Lawyers of the Year” and “Best Lawyers,” as well as the inaugural “Ones to Watch” category, in 49 practice areas across 10 regions.


Tier 1

  • Admiralty & Maritime Law
  • Banking and Finance Law
  • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Corporate Law
  • Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Litigation – Bankruptcy
  • Mergers & Acquisitions Law
  • Real Estate Law
  • Tax Law
  • Trusts & Estates Law

Continue reading “Blank Rome Highly Ranked in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2021 “Best Law Firms””

Blank Rome Pro Bono Report (2019‒2020)

Pro Bono Report (2019-2020) cover image

Welcome to Blank Rome’s Pro Bono Report (2019‒2020), which highlights various pro bono cases, clinics, and projects that our attorneys worked on last year and in recent months to provide equal access to justice in our communities.

In particular, we discuss our significant work on behalf of immigrantsLGBTQ+ individualspersons facing homelessnessveteranssenior citizens, and small business owners and nonprofits.

Also featured in this report:

      • Blank Rome’s 2019 Pro Bono Year in Review
      • Summary of pro bono awards presented to our Firm and attorneys
      • Blank Rome’s pro bono corporate and community partners
      • Overview of pro bono initiatives and priorities for 2020 and beyond

To download Blank Rome’s Pro Bono Report, please click here.

Blank Rome Launches Biometric Privacy Team

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce the formal launch of our Biometric Privacy Team. Composed of multidisciplinary attorneys from across our Firm’s offices, this dedicated team draws talent from our Cybersecurity & Data PrivacyPrivacy Class Action DefenseArtificial Intelligence Technology, and Labor & Employment groups to help clients address and minimize the risks associated with biometric privacy regulatory compliance, enforcement, and litigation.

“We are thrilled to launch this important and timely initiative,” said Jeffrey N. Rosenthal, who leads the Firm’s Biometric Privacy Team. “Our team includes both highly experienced compliance counsel and seasoned privacy class action defense litigators. Collectively, we are well positioned to help clients navigate today’s myriad biometric privacy laws. Whether proactively developing comprehensive compliance/risk management programs or aggressively defending clients in state and federal courts across the country, our Biometric Privacy Team possesses the technological savvy, industry knowledge, and battle-forged litigation skills needed to counsel and defend our clients as consumer privacy laws continue to expand and evolve.”

Recent advancements in technology and artificial intelligence have led companies to utilize biometric data—such as fingerprint scans, facial recognition, voice prints, and DNA scans—in an ever-increasingly broad number of ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. This, in turn, has brought about significant legal risk as legislatures across the country implement laws to tightly regulate the use of this technology, such as the now well-known Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act and California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. The commercial use of biometric data has also led to a wave of bet-the-company class action litigation for alleged technical statutory violations, often involving hundreds of millions of dollars in potential exposure.

“Our biometric privacy trial attorneys are frequently retained to litigate high-exposure, high-profile disputes. Due to this demand, we have developed reputations for achieving superior results against challenging odds using novel and creative strategies,” stated Ana Tagvoryan, Vice Chair of the Firm’s Corporate Litigation group and Co-Chair of Blank Rome’s Class Action Defense Team. “Our multidisciplinary team develops winning litigation strategies and formidable defenses against all manner of claims involving allegedly improper biometric data practices.”

Blank Rome’s biometric privacy attorneys are also thought leaders in this space, having extensively published and presented on compliance best practices, emerging legal trends involving biometric laws and technology around the country and the world, risk mitigation, and litigation strategy.

Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Team

Blank Rome’s Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Team (“SWERT”) helps those impacted by natural disasters like recent powerful hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, and by wildfires and mudslides in California and Colorado. We are an interdisciplinary group with decades of experience helping companies and individuals recover from severe weather events. Our team includes insurance recovery, labor and employment, government contracts, environmental, and energy attorneys, as well as government relations professionals with extensive experience in disaster recovery.

Learn more:

Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) is impacting businesses and public life around the world. From supply chain disruption, government-ordered closures, and event cancellations to employee safety concerns and social distancing recommendations, every company is facing its own unique challenges in the face of the uncertainties surrounding this global pandemic.

Blank Rome’s Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force (“Task Force”) is monitoring this ever-changing situation and is here to help. The Task Force is an interdisciplinary group of the Firm’s attorneys with decades of experience helping companies and individuals respond to the legal fallout from disruptive crises and disasters. Our multifaceted team includes insurance recovery, labor & employment, maritime, litigation, corporate, real estate, and cybersecurity & data privacy attorneys prepared to analyze your issues from every conceivable angle to ensure a holistic, complete, and comprehensive approach to your specific needs and issues. With offices across the United States and in China, we are ready to assist businesses that must respond and prepare for an evolving public health emergency.

To access all of our Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force resources, please visit our website.

Blank Rome’s Maritime Industry Team

Our maritime industry team is composed of practice-focused subcommittees from across many of our Firm’s offices, with attorneys who have extensive capabilities and experience in the maritime industry and beyond, effectively complementing Blank Rome Maritime’s client cases and transactions.

Maritime Emergency Response Team (“MERT”)
We are on call 24 / 7 / 365
In the event of an incident, please contact any of our MERT members listed in red below.

William R. Bennett III – NYC

Jeanne M. Grasso – WAS

Keith B. Letourneau – HOU

Richard V. Singleton, II – NYC

Jeremy A. Herschaft – HOU

Matthew J. Thomas – WAS
CO-CHAIR, MARITIME INDUSTRY TEAM Continue reading “Blank Rome’s Maritime Industry Team”

New Legislation to Apply the Jones Act to Offshore Renewables

Jonathan K. WaldronJoan M. Bondareff, and Stefanos N. Roulakis

Jonathan K. WaldronJoan M. BondareffStefanos N. Roulakis

Stakeholders in offshore wind construction projects, including vessel owners and operators, project developers, and equipment manufacturers, should ensure that their plans for offshore wind development comply with the Jones Act. While most stakeholders already assume in their planning that the Jones Act applies, new pending legislation, if enacted, would confirm that the Jones Act does indeed apply to offshore wind construction.


The House of Representatives passed legislation, H.R. 4447, the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act of 2019, on September 24, 2020, which included a provision from Representatives Garamendi and Lowenthal (“Amendment 33”) to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”) that would confirm the Jones Act applies to all offshore energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”), including wind energy. While most projects were planned with Jones Act compliance in mind, this is a welcome development for all stakeholders, as it will bring needed clarity to renewable energy development offshore.


The Coastwise Merchandise Statute, commonly known as the Jones Act, has evolved over time. The U.S. cabotage laws date back to the founding of the Republic and were enshrined in their current form in the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. These were originally laws that dealt with transportation issues for domestic voyages. However, as time progressed and production of marine resources became feasible, the U.S. Congress passed OCSLA, which extended federal law to installations on the OCS.

Please click here for the full client alert.