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New bill raises employment privacy concerns

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New bill raises employment privacy concerns

By Madalyn Velisaris, Staff Writer

Employers in Illinois may soon get notifications if a fingerprinted employee gets in trouble with the law anywhere within the United States.

The Illinois House and Senate passed SB2907 enabling this on May 25. Currently, the bill is waiting to be approved by Governor Bruce Rauner.

The bill, which amends the current Criminal Identification Act, will allow agencies in Illinois that can do or receive national criminal background checks for people to participate in the Rap Back Service.

The Rap Back Service helps keep track of people’s criminal record if their fingerprints are submitted to the FBI.

“‘Rap Back Service’ means the system that enables an authorized agency or entity to receive ongoing status notifications of any criminal history from the Department of State Police or the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported on a person whose fingerprints are registered in the system, after approval and implementation of the system,” according to the bill.

The service will be administered by the Department of State Police and they may submit fingerprints to the FBI’s Rap Back Service with the intent of being used in future searches.

Types of people who are under the surveillance of the Rap Back Service tend to work jobs that hold positions of trust, such as school teachers and daycare workers.

“The Rap Back Service allows authorized agencies to receive notification of activity on individuals who hold positions of trust or who are under criminal justice supervision or investigation, thus eliminating the need for repeated background checks on a person from the same applicant agency,” according to the FBI website.

Prior to the system, employers could only see a one-time snapshot of the criminal record a person had at a certain time, but now they are able to get real-time notifications when a person breaks the law anywhere within the United States.

If the bill is passed by Rauner, it will broaden Illinois’ criminal and non-criminal reporting system. This new system also raises many privacy concerns.

According to an article from the Illinois News Network, the FBI program would help employers by getting rid of the need for repeated background checks.

Contrastingly, some people question the margin of error and cost of the bill if passed.

“Another question raised is the efficacy of the program and its potential margin of error. While the bill proposes the use of fingerprint scanning, the much more costly alternative to a simple background check using Social Security numbers; both have room for possible mistakes that could lead to life-altering consequences for residents,” the article said.

Andrew Leipold, University law professor, said it may be hard to keep up with the accuracy of the checks.

“How accurate is the information that people are retrieving and then how easy is it for people to correct errors. I mean, if you’re looking in 50 places, instead of one place, the chances of there being an error in there, somewhere, increase,” Leipold said.

Another factor is the amount of accessibility the bill has to offer to employers and the ability to correct certain issues that may arise if the bill is enacted.

“It’s about accuracy, it’s about accessibility and fixing the inevitable mistakes until we get it right,” he said.

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