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FAA Reauthorization Bill gives FAA access to criminal history records and databases

Many of us today have our attention on the Senate as they vote on repealing Obamcare. But the repeal is actually an amendment to the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act. With that in mind, can someone explain to me why language has been inserted in this bill that will give the FAA access to federal and state criminal databases?

The FAA bill amends the laws that pertain to aviation programs under Title 49 of the US Code. Specifically, Section 505 of today’s FAA bill creates these new powers:

SEC. 505. FAA ACCESS TO CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS OR DATABASE SYSTEMS.

(a) IN GENERAL- Chapter 401 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:

`Sec. 40130. FAA access to criminal history records or databases systems

`(a) Access to Records or Databases Systems-

  • `(1) Notwithstanding section 534 of title 28 and the implementing regulations for such section (28 C.F.R. part 20), the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration is authorized to access a system of documented criminal justice information maintained by the Department of Justice or by a State but may do so only for the purpose of carrying out its civil and administrative responsibilities to protect the safety and security of the National Airspace System or to support the missions of the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and other law enforcement agencies. The Administrator shall be subject to the same conditions or procedures established by the Department of Justice or State for access to such an information system by other governmental agencies with access to the system.
  • `(2) The Administrator may not use the access authorized under paragraph (1) to conduct criminal investigations.

`(b) DESIGNATED EMPLOYEES- The Administrator shall, by order, designate those employees of the Administration who shall carry out the authority described in subsection (a). Such designated employees may–

  • `(1) have access to and receive criminal history, driver, vehicle, and other law enforcement information contained in the law enforcement databases of the Department of Justice, or of any jurisdiction in a State in the same manner as a police officer employed by a State or local authority of that State who is certified or commissioned under the laws of that State;
  • `(2) use any radio, data link, or warning system of the Federal Government and of any jurisdiction in a State that provides information about wanted persons, be-on-the-lookout notices, or warrant status or other officer safety information to which a police officer employed by a State or local authority in that State who is certified or commission under the laws of that State has access and in the same manner as such police officer; or
  • `(3) receive Federal, State, or local government communications with a police officer employed by a State or local authority in that State in the same manner as a police officer employed by a State or local authority in that State who is commissioned under the laws of that State.

The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created a FAA to oversee and regulate safety in the airline industry and control civilian and military use of the airspace over the United States. Its authority to regulate safety, I think in most people’s opinions, does not include law enforcement type public safety.

But according to this, the FAA  mission is to “protect the security of the National Airspace System.” That’s odd. I always thought that was the job of the military and/or the DOD. Besides, the TSA already has access to these databases to scrutinize passengers.

This law would allow the FAA to access to private information about private citizens, including driver’s license, vehicle, warrants, and wanted-persons information and allow them to communicate with police about it.

Why? Is the FAA now a law enforcement agency?

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