US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is trying to use facial recognition to identify people crossing in a vehicle at a US land border. To that end, the organization is piloting an expanded Simplified Arrival system at the Anzalduas International Bridge Port of Entry in Texas.
The Simplified Arrival program uses facial recognition to match a traveler to an image (such as a passport or visa photo) being stored in a Department of Homeland Security database. The program has already been deployed at air, sea, and land ports of entry all over the country, but has thus far been restricted to the pedestrian lanes at land border crossings.
The new pilot program will use facial recognition cameras in vehicle lanes to take a photo of every single person sitting in the car. Those photos will then be cross-referenced with the Simplified Arrival database to speed up the screening process and help border agents make a clearance decision when the car gets to the gate.
The cameras will only be installed at two vehicle lanes during the pilot. Those lanes will be clearly marked, so drivers will be able to choose another lane and opt out of the facial recognition scan if they do not want to participate in the pilot. Those that do so will still need to submit their travel documents to an agent for a standard check.
At the moment, CBP is not sure how well the system will perform when applied to people in cars. The pilot will run for 120 days, at which point CBP will evaluate the system and plan its next steps accordingly. The agency will specifically be looking at the quality of the images captured with the system, and its ability to match those images to a face on file.
As always, images of US citizens will be deleted after 12 hours, while those of foreign nationals will be stored indefinitely. Simplified Arrival has recently been installed at pedestrian crossings at land borders in California, Arizona, and Washington state.
September 23, 2021 – by Eric Weiss