There have been movements in the TSA and in Congress for the administration to clear name-based criminal background checks as a complement to or substitute for fingerprints for TSAPre(R). This is a worthwhile review.
In May 2015, the TSA published an OMB review notice for possible revisions to the TSA PreCheck program.
Under the TSA PreCheck Program, individuals may submit biographic and biometric information directly to TSA, which in turn uses the information to conduct a security threat assessment (STA) of law enforcement, immigration, and intelligence databases, including a criminal history check. The results are used by TSA to decide if an individual poses a low risk to transportation or national security. . . TSA plans to expand enrollment options for the TSA Pre✓® Application Program by using additional contractor options or capabilities to market, enroll and pre-screen applicants. Approved contractors will provide secure enrollment options to collect biographic and biometric (e.g., fingerprints, iris scans, and/or photo) information, validate identity, collect citizenship/ immigration information, and perform a criminal history records check to ensure that applicants do not have convictions for criminal offenses that would disqualify them from the TSA Pre✓® Application Program. These expansion options may include may include the use of commercial and other publicly available data to verify identity and citizenship/immigration status, and conduct a criminal check.
TSA PreCheck Expansion may have its genesis, at least in part, in a bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year and now sits in a senate committee. The house bill, H.R. 2483, the TSA PreCheck Expansion Act of 2015, was referred to Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in July 2015. As noted in the House Homeland Security Committee Report, Section 3 of the bill, “requires the [TSA] Administrator to ensure that any enrollment expansion using a private sector risk assessment instead of a fingerprint-based criminal history records check is determined to be equivalent to a fingerprint-based criminal history records check conducted through the FBI.” H. Rpt. 114-221. Specifically, the Administrator shall, among other things,
(6) ensure that any enrollment expansion using a private sector risk assessment instead of a fingerprint-based criminal history records check is determined, by the Secretary of Homeland Security, to be equivalent to a fingerprint-based criminal history records check conducted through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More