Legislative Advocate, National Council of Investigative & Security Services (NCISS)

Friday, July 26, 2013

The National Council of investigation & Security Services include both private investigators and security firms among its members. They could be severely affected by several issues now before congress or expected to be introduced in the near future.

Private Investigators Need Access to Data
Private investigators are a key part of the judicial system of the United States. Justice requires that all parties to a dispute have the evidence before them to present in court. Private Investigators need access to important data, including Social Security Numbers in order to locate witnesses. Our members use this personal data for a number of other valuable purposes, outlined in detail in a separate included document. We anticipate legislation which would seek to limit access to Social Security numbers. We urge congress to adopt language similar to that in the Drivers Privacy Protection Act in any such legislation permitting access:

"to the extent necessary to prevent, detect, or investigate fraud or unauthorized transactions, to verify identity, to locate missing or abducted persons or witnesses to an ongoing or potential civil or criminal lawsuit, criminals, criminal suspects, parties to lawsuits, parents delinquent in child support payments, organ and bone marrow donors, pension funds beneficiaries, missing heirs, and for similar legal, medical or family related purposes.”

HR 1312/S 639, "The Geological Privacy and Surveillance Act,'' by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). The legislation would require consent of the subject when using of gps technology for tracking individuals. NCISS opposes the legislation. The use of the devices for surveillance reduces accident risk during lawful surveillance.

S 649, "Safe Schools, Safe Communities Act, "by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). This major weapons bill would require background checks for commercial sales and funds for school security. NCISS supports background checks but strongly opposes amendments to limit specific weapons or the size of magazines unless it includes an exemption for security services and private investigators. Armed guards are often used at facilities which could be subject to attack by multiple assailants. Private investigators often travel in dangerous areas. Many of their existing weapons utilize large magazines.

HR 645, "Equal Employment for All Act," by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN.) In a recent investigation conducted by one of our members a company comptroller embezzled several hundred thousand dollars. A credit check revealed large gambling debts. Credit reports often reveal false information on employment histories. Credit reports for employment purposes, especially with an employee's consent should not be denied to employers.

HR 1468, "SECURE IT, "by Rep. Marsha Blackburn. The bill is a broad cybersecurity measure, but includes provisions requiring companies to protect personal data and report any breaches. Similar data breach bills last congress included language which would have prohibited the use of "pretexting" to obtain personal data. NCISS opposes any amendment to restrict the use of a pretext for lawful purposes. Private Investigators on occasion must use benign pretenses to obtain information from evasive individuals, including those accused of committing fraudulent acts.

HR 1120, "Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relation s Act," by Rep Phil Roe (R-TN). The bill would prevent the National Labor Relations Board from carrying out any actions requiring a quorum until such time as they obtain one. NCISS is concerned with several action s of the Board which would effectively shorten the time prior to representational elections. These actions were made when the Board was determined to be without a quorum. We are supporting HR 1120 and efforts to rein in the Board.

NCISS strongly opposes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on the employer u se of criminal histories. Both private investigators and security firms are required to have criminal background checks in order to be licensed. Yet the EEOC guidance permits the Commission to preempt state law. Employers are in the best position to decide when criminal checks are relevant. Employers are now subject to very uncertain rules about when such checks are necessary. They face a very real dilemma: either risk being sued for a negligent hire or face the threat of litigation under the EEOC's new guidance. We urge congress to examine the impact of this guidance on employers and consider reversing it.