Privacy or Civil Liberties of American Citizens

Do you believe that the government’s (local, state, federal) collection and storing of fingerprint information causes a conflict with the privacy or civil liberties of American citizens? Why, or why not?


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                                                       CLASSMATE’ S POST

No, I do not believe that the various government sectors’ collection and storage of a person’s fingerprint information causes a privacy conflict or a conflict with the American Civil Liberties Unions’ overall purpose. There are circumstances which permit a government allowance of the legal collection and what would be considered transfer of a person’s fingerprints. Also, there are authorized agencies or databases that provide or have the jurisdiction to review and present identification based on fingerprint submission from law enforcement or even an employer for legal or employment requirements purposes.

Circumstances that would permit a government entity such as a local, state or federal  to lawfully collect and allowing examination of a person’s fingerprints could fall under the areas of unlawful criminal behavior, employment verification process/step, and even military service requirements. So, basically as American citizens we submit authorization for  this process for one reason or another.  As a result, fingerprint submissions are stored and can be verified through the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system. “In 1999, the FBI initiated full operation of the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), the largest AFIS in the United States, which links state AFIS computers with the FBI database; in 2014, it was replaced and integrated into the NGI system” (Saferstein & Roy, 2021, p. 136, para.2). Finally, a violation of a person’s rights regarding the objective of the American Civil Liberties Union would only apply if the fingerprints were not obtained under the accordance of the law and its legal boundaries.  All of the information presented above regarding the collection of a citizen’s fingerprints and the violation of his/her privacy is addressed by the FBI under Public Law 92-544.

Our fingerprint holdings are divided into two categories – criminal and civil. A criminal card is exactly as the name implies. It is the fingerprints of an individual who has been arrested and charged with a crime. A civil card is submitted regarding an individual who is seeking employment in certain positions, such as federal employment, the military, or the banking/securities industry; or is adopting a child; seeking U.S. citizenship; or serving as a volunteer (e.g., at a child or senior day care center) and requires a national fingerprint background check as part of the screening process. Civil fingerprint checks are submitted to the FBI based upon a specific federal law authorizing a national fingerprint background check or based upon a state statute or a municipal ordinance, if authorized by a state statute, authorizing a national background check in compliance with Public Law 92-544. (, para. 3)

                                                                 References (n. d.). FBI Fingerprint Program.


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