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Biometric criminal record checks for U.S. job applicants increase


According to statistics from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, fingerprinting has exponentially increased as a method of checking job applicants in the private sector.

In 2000, employers who were screening job applicants sent approximately 6.6 million sets of fingerprints to the FBI. In 2012, it is estimated that the number of fingerprints forwarded to the FBI to conduct background checks will total more than 25 million.

Industry analysts attribute the increase in background criminal checks due to enhanced security measures put in place since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Further, workplaces that deal with healthcare, education and finance are increasing the number of criminal checks they conduct.

The FBI’s authority to conduct a criminal history record check for non-criminal justice purposes is based upon Public Law 92-544.

Public Law 92-544, passed by Congress in 1972, allows non-criminal governmental agencies and private entities within states to obtain criminal record information from the FBI if the state’s legislature, or in some states a city council, board of supervisors or other local legislative body, has passed a statute authorizing access, and if the statute is approved by the U.S. Attorney General.

The U.S. Department of Justice has advised that a state statute establishing guidelines for a category of employment or the issuance of a license must, in itself, require fingerprinting and authorize the governmental licensing or employing agency to exchange fingerprint data directly with the FBI.

Often, background checks are conducted by private contractors who often compete against local enforcement agencies, and offer expedited processing services.

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