IBIA urges ridesharing firms to deploy fingerprint checks in white paper
14 June 2016 14:42 GMT

The International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA) has advised ridesharing firms such as Uber and Lyft to consider implementing fingerprint-based background checks for drivers, saying that the process is much more secure than simple biographical checks.

The IBIA's recommendations are part of a white paper the association has produced that provides data on the proven accuracy of fingerprint-based background checks, the quick turnaround times to process requests, the accessibility of the fingerprint collection service locations in the US and the ability to perform continuous vetting thanks to the FBI's new Rap Back service.

"There are significant risks in relying solely on a biographic background check," says Tovah LaDier, IBIA's Managing Director, explaining that, "Biographic searches are vulnerable to data entry errors and attempts to use false or misleading biographic information to thwart detection."

"Uber has created a business revolution based upon the use of technology," said Tovah LaDier, who notes, "It is ironic Uber would prefer an antiquated and vulnerable process by relying solely on name-based background checks of its applicants."

The IBIA writes that an notable exception is New York City, where fingerprint-based background checks are required and Uber has declared its intention to remain for the long term. Elsewhere, both Uber and Lyft have fought strongly against the efforts to require fingerprint-based criminal background checks, claiming that they are unnecessary, onerous, ineffective, and intrusive. 

In May, Uber and Lyft  said they will leave the city of Austin in Texas after the public rejected legislation that would’ve enabled their drivers to work without biometric checks - Texans voted against Proposition 1, a set of measures aimed at overturning regulations the city passed last December, including fingerprint-based background checks for drivers. Both firms have said the fingerprint requirements are too much of a burden on both drivers (who'd have a harder time getting started) and passengers (who'd have to be picky about where they hail rides).

It has also said it will leave Miami, Houston, and other localities if full background checks are mandated.

In the white paper, the IBIA writes that only a rigorous and comprehensive background check that includes a search of FBI and state fingerprint-based systems, in addition to other potential sources of biographic background information, will provide Uber and Lyft with all the necessary information to most effectively protect the safety and security of their passengers.

The group notes that Ten-print fingerprint searches of the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) database are very accurate.  The FBI reports automated true match accuracy rates of over 99.6%.   Over a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security’s IDENT database was already reporting automated match rate accuracy of 99.5% against a database of millions of records.