The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the foremost law enforcement agency in the United States. It is the entity that is responsible for the administration of the most comprehensive database of criminal justice information in the country.
This repository is known as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The NCIC maintains a variety of files – including arrest records – that can be readily accessed by local, state, and federal law enforcement authorities to aid them in the execution of their duties. However, unlike the files which are under the administration of some of its partner agencies, FBI arrest records cannot be accessed by all members of the public.
Who can access these records?
As indicated above, the average free background check conducted via a search engine will not unearth an electronic copy of the arrest information that is being maintained on an individual by the FBI arrest info online. This is due to the fact that such data is stored in a secure database. There are well-defined regulations that serve to restrict access to such files to entities and individuals who are duly authorized to view them.
Agents of the criminal justice entities mentioned above (i.e. local, state, and federal law enforcement outfits) are among those who are empowered to do so. However, even in these instances, the protocol governing the use of this resource constrains their access privileges to those sufficient to undertake the tasks for which authorization has been granted.
Furnishing a copy of such a criminal history summary is often a mandatory requirement for individuals who are desirous of adopting children or living and working in a foreign country. It is also usually a prerequisite for people who want to be licensed in a particular area of professional endeavor. This includes practitioners in areas where it is imperative for a determination to be made by prospective employers regarding the applicant’s trustworthiness and integrity such as the childcare field.
As such, there are provisions in place that make it possible for individuals to gain access to their own criminal history records which are maintained by the FBI to facilitate a criminal background check. However, this requires them to go through a rigorous verification process that is intended to establish – beyond the shadow of a doubt – that they are who they claim to be. There are currently two means by which a formal request for such a document can be submitted. Both are outlined below.
- 1. Submit request directly to the FBI
The person applying for the copy of the document is required to complete an application form that can be retrieved from the agency’s website. They are also required to supply an original fingerprint card that features rolled impressions of all ten digits. It is highly recommended that the applicant utilizes the services of a fingerprinting technician to ensure that the impressions captured meet the standards required by the FBI. Following the submission of a package including the application form, fingerprint card, and payment, the processing of the request will be initiated.
- 2. Submit request through an approved private agent
There are FBI-approved private entities that can aid the applicant in their quest to get gain access to the relevant record. These companies are commonly referred to as “channelers”. They collect the required documentation from the individual and then “channel” them to the appropriate department at the Federal Bureau of Investigation for processing of the request to be initiated. Upon completion of this activity, they receive and relay the results of the request to the requester.
What safeguards are in place to protect these records?
Due to the sensitive nature of the information that they maintain, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has put in place numerous safeguards to ensure the protection of the files they store. These security procedures are intended to keep the public arrest records and criminal records under management with the highest possible level of protection that is available. The measures employed to ensure that unauthorized individuals are not permitted access include the following:
- Physical protection of the computers from which FBI arrest records can be viewed
Adequate numbers of security personnel are always on duty to ensure that any individual who does not possess the requisite security clearance is physically unable to gain access to the computers on which this information is stored. This protocol applies at the site of the NCIC’s central database and at all the satellite access points managed by the respective state law enforcement authorities.
- Thorough screening of terminal operators
Personnel employed in this capacity are required to undergo a rigorous process of screening that is intended to limit the risk of them either passively or actively facilitating a security breach. These security procedures also extend to the companies and professionals who are contracted to effect repairs or carry out maintenance work on the computers with access to the central database.
There are numerous other safeguards that are in effect to ensure that unfettered access to these sensitive arrest records is not possible. The deployment of firewalls and the encryption of information are just a few of the additional safeguards that are in place.
A search for “FBI arrest records online” will not yield the type of revealing results that are often returned when someone searches the Internet for criminal history files that are maintained by some other law enforcement agencies. This is due to the fact that access to arrest records maintained by the FBI is restricted to authorized agents of local, state, and federal criminal justice entities. It is also possible for individuals to request copies of their own FBI arrest records. Moreover, once you obtain your record info from the agency or another online agency, if you wish to remove criminal history to improve your record and maintain your privacy, you can look for several ways to seal or expunge your felonies.