Are American’s ready for a national United States Postal Service (USPS) biometric criminal background check program?

What initially started out as an employee criminal background screener program has morphed into a biometric criminal background check program for the public.

In 2019, the USPS innocuously began installing fingerprint scanners in post offices so they could scan potential employees. The USPS used fingerprint scanners and the National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI) to conduct in-depth background checks.

“NACI investigations are conducted for all newly hired employees as part of the post-hiring process. Based on the NACI results, the Postal Service makes a final suitability determination and the employee is either retained or separated. During the hiring process, controls are implemented to help ensure that appropriate due diligence (reviews, approval certifications, justifications, etc.) is applied.”

But an article from the Federal News Network dated October 2020 revealed all that was about to change.

“The Postal Service is working with the FBI to provide fingerprinting services at more than 100 post offices across the country. Before this partnership, the FBI had up to a 14-week turnaround time to process fingerprints for its Identity History Summary Check. But local post offices have processed these fingerprints in less than a day. People go through the fingerprinting program if they apply for a visa, adopt a child, or apply for jobs working with children. USPS officials said the agency is also looking to expand its fingerprint services to other federal agencies.”

According to the Feds, the USPS has been providing “Identity History Summary Checks” for the public using their fingerprints in 100 post offices.

A hundred post offices offering biometric background checks to the public is nothing to be concerned about, right?

Fast-forward four months, and the 100 post offices conducting biometric background checks on Americans has changed dramatically.

According to a January 2021 Federal News Network article, the USPS biometric criminal background checks of the public has expanded 3900 percent or 4,000 post offices!

“The Postal Service is planning to expand its fingerprinting services to 4,000 facilities before the end of 2021 — a 40-fold increase from current levels – in an effort to make the most of its vast network of post offices across the country.”

PR Newswire news release revealed that the USPS and facial recognition company IDEMIA are working together to conduct biometric criminal background checks on people nationwide.

“This award will enable the Postal Service to further leverage its nationwide retail network and information infrastructure to better serve federal agencies and the American public through broader access to biometric capture and in-person proofing services.”

It appears that the Feds and IDEMIA have finally found a way to turn the USPS into a profitable business. Albeit by profiting off of background checks on the public; but it’s something.

IDEMIA’s CEO Andrew Boyd could not be any happier, “We are delighted to partner with USPS to help bring their vision forward, and to leverage USPS’s broad infrastructure to offer the American people greater access to identity verification and assurance solutions.”

The Feds could use post offices to conduct criminal background checks on 99% of the population.

The January 2021 Federal News Network article hints that all 31,000 post offices will soon be conducting biometric criminal background checks.

“Shane Powers, the vice president of operations at NSS, said the success of the program, and its potential for growth, stem from the agency’s vast delivery network. USPS operates 31,000 post offices, and 99% of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of their nearest post office.”

The Feds could use America’s trust of the USPS to create a national biometric criminal background check program

“They’re very proud that they’re one of the most trusted government agencies time and time again, and a lot of it comes back down to their employees. This partnership will ensure that USPS employees are properly vetted through the FBI channels to make sure that they don’t have that rap sheet that has negative stuff in it,” Powers said.

Still don’t think that the Feds could use the USPS to create a national biometric criminal background check program?

“IDEMIA will also support USPS in offering digital fingerprint services, enabling faster turnaround from the FBI in providing members of the public with their criminal history record,” Powers said.

And there is more,

“They want to innovate faster, and with that comes this value that they’ll deliver. Our platform will be able to scale, it has the flexibility to deploy nationwide and very quickly, so we can move at the speed that USPS wants to innovate,” he said.

In the not-too-distant future, the government could require citizens to visit their nearest FBI-run post office and submit to biometric criminal background checks complete with facial recognition.

Turning the USPS into police department sub-stations appears to be on the fast track, something we should all be concerned about.

This post was originally published at MassPrivateI.


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