US Customs and Border Protection’s biometric border control program continues its expansion across the country. The Department of Homeland Security agency has announced that ‘Simplified Arrival’ is now operational at Kansas City International Airport (KCI).
Simplified Arrival uses facial recognition to match travelers to images from their official identity documents – namely passports and visas – replacing the manual screening process that would normally take place at the airport, or at land or sea border checkpoints. The CBP has been deploying its Simplified Arrival system across a growing network of airports, with the solution having recently landed in Guam, Denver, and Honolulu, among other locations.
The CBP says that since September of 2018, 86 million travelers have been processed through Simplified Arrival, and that the system has helped to catch nearly 850 imposters as they tried to illegally enter the United States using the identity documents of others.
The CBP initially embarked upon its biometric border screening project as a security effort, at least in part to fulfill a mandate from Congress to implement the biometric screening of foreign nationals. Security remains a key objective, but in announcing the KCI deployment, officials emphasized Simplified Arrival’s utility in streamlining passenger processing.
“Their technology continues to make arrival in Kansas City as fast and easy as possible, while giving travelers options,” said Kansas City Director of Aviation Pat Klein. “Simplified Arrival is quick and touchless with the CBP officer doing the work, and Mobile Passport Control still exists for travelers who wish to be more hands on.”
The CBP’s announcement also emphasized the sophistication of its technology and the privacy safeguards in place, perhaps to address the concerns of civil rights groups, such as the ACLU, that have voiced opposition to the expansion of Simplified Arrival.
“Simplified Arrival pairs one of the industry’s highest ranked facial comparison algorithms (as assessed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology) with trained CBP officers who are skilled at verifying the authenticity of travel documents,” the agency said, adding later that travelers are allowed to opt out of the biometric screening process, and that new photos of participating American citizens will be deleted within 12 hours.
August 6, 2021 – by Alex Perala