Fingerprint checks remain the gold standard for ride-share companies

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Fingerprint checks remain the gold standard for ride-share companies


For many years now, the local and state government in Chicago. Austin, Connecticut, New York, San Antonio, and Rhodes Island have been contending with the issue of mandating potential drivers of Lyft, Uber, and other conversational taxi drivers to obtain a national background check for criminal records.

Uber publicly contended with the authorities for the requirement of the stringent background check, compelling policymakers in making a tough choice in either supporting the economy or guaranteeing the safety of the public

The choice is clear when it comes to ensuring public safety. Policymakers are expected to consistently implement age-long decisions that make the gold standard fingerprint check mandatory.

There has been a nationwide acceptance of the policy that mandates the fingerprint background check for individuals working in public safety and security positions. The fingerprint check has been mandated for the millions of individuals working these positions, such as teachers, sick and elderly caregivers, medical practitioners, real estate agents, stockbrokers, taxi drivers, firefighters, and school volunteers since they constantly have unchecked access to huge financial assets and the susceptible population.

In 2016 alone, more than six and a half job seekers and employers performed a fingerprint background check by MorphoTrustUSA. Both private sectors and the government want to carry out an appropriate criminal check on every candidate before offering them a job.

However, over the years, ride-sharing companies have claimed that the nationwide fingerprint background check by the FBI is time taking, expensive, difficult, and discriminatory as well. Those arguments according to law enforcement officials, security professionals and policymakers who are well familiar with the process, are totally inaccurate – most secure background screening procedures are not only simple and quick, however, for millions of employers who have counted on it to maintain the safety of the public for years there is a reason it is still deemed the gold standard.

The use of fingerprints is the cause. Once an applicant’s fingerprints are duplicated, they are processed through the database of the FBI, which includes the information of criminal records from the 50 states, that includes registries of a sex offender. If an individual has any criminal history wherever in the U.S., it will appear. The state or town can then decide if the offense is unacceptable for the job. For instance, in a school, sex offenders cannot work, however, someone with a history of a rather minor offense like driving with no license can.

Fingerprints are not just a very precise way to verify a person’s identity, they are as well globally used across the federal government and state agencies. This makes it possible for the sharing of information on the highest level between all the relevant agencies – an element that is absent when identities are not confirmed through fingerprints.

Checks that are based on name or non-fingerprint based, on the contrary, are restricted and not shared easily among the relevant agencies. These criminal background checks are done on databases that are publicly available and records from county courthouses, that are not connected and usually do not go back more than seven years. Name-based background checks have three basic problems. First, there is no way individuals can be definitely identified (i.e. A fingerprint), increasing the probability of fraud. Furthermore, since birthdays, names and addresses are not specific, the probability of false positives (someone connected in error with the record of another) as well as false negatives (a person being cleared when they are not supposed to) are considerably increased.

Lastly, because the database of the FBI is not accessible, a thorough national search is not done, which makes these searches partial, unreliable, and inaccurate.

In the debate among checks that are name-based with the use of fingerprints, the facts are evident and the choice is clear. As shown by legislators in many states already, public safety does not worth the impact of ride-sharing services in the economy.

Every state should follow suit and keep implementing policies that are decades-long which authorize the gold standard i.e. fingerprint-based background checks.

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