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Simplified Arrival face biometrics reaches 5 new ports, faces questions

Simplified Arrival face biometrics reaches 5 new ports, faces questions

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), meanwhile, has launched its Simplified Arrival face biometrics to a pair of pedestrian border crossings in Vermont and three in Maine to automate the document checks required for entry into the country.

The biometric facial comparison technology has been deployed to Highgate Springs and Derby Line, Vermont, and Houlton, Jackman and Calais, Maine.

The process takes only a few seconds and has accuracy above 98 percent, according to the announcements.

CBP is up to 113 million travelers processed with face biometrics at land, air and seaports of entry, and has prevented the entry of more than 1,050 imposters into the United States.

In a recent Senate Homeland Security meeting, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) inquired about the progress of CBP towards deployment of Simplified Arrival across its operations, and the program’s effectiveness at catching imposters.

CBP Office of Field Operations Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner Diane Sabatino testified that out of 950 incidents of document fraud by imposters had been identified through face biometrics at the U.S. border, 600 of them along the Southwest border. Just over 500 incidents across the country were accepted for prosecution.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), however, is unimpressed. The group is calling for CBP to reverse course on its intention to collect information from migrants before they arrive, including photos for use with facial recognition in comments on the proposal.

The photos are placed in CBP’s Automated Targeting System (ATS) for vetting against the Traveler Verification Service (TVS).

The automated process and biometric storage, EPIC says, exposes migrants to risks of racial bias, data breaches and law enforcement abuse. The group argues that CBP should set limits on the use of images collected, and should provide sufficient justification for continuing the practice.

This post was updated at 10:55am Eastern on December 2, 2021 to correct Diane Sabatino’s first name.

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