I am interested in taking the CPA exam. One of the requirements to take the test is have my fingerprints taken, ostensibly to verify my identity at the testing center. (https://nasba.org/blog/2008/01/20/biometrics/)

However, my fingerprints are then kept on file in a central database and will potentially be made available to the AICPA if they want to investigate me for some reason.

I am a private person and do not want my fingerprints remaining on file (obviously I would prefer not to submit them at all). Is there any legal precedent I can use to "opt out" of this requirement? Is this fourth amendment territory?

  • I have seen several articles on legal cases where a suspect was required to provide his fingerprints to unlock a phone and this was not considered protected under the fourth amendment. E.g. news.bloomberglaw.com/privacy-and-data-security/…. However, this is the collection and storage of personal data as a prerequisite for an exam, not a suspect giving access to information. Nov 30, 2019 at 20:13
  • Taking the test is entirely your option. You don't have to, and nobody can make you, become an accountant.
    – user4657
    Nov 30, 2019 at 21:02
  • I am already an accountant, just not a CPA. I am well aware that no one is forcing me to take the exam, I am asking if there is a way to take it without being subjected to what are imo invasions of privacy. Nov 30, 2019 at 21:13
  • 2
    Wait, you want to have people give you their authority and trust, without trusting them or proving that you can be trusted first?
    – user4657
    Nov 30, 2019 at 21:15
  • "Legal precedent"? You'll need to establish one by suing NASBA and winning. Nov 30, 2019 at 21:48

1 Answer 1


Fingerprints are required in a number of states to get a CPA license. Under California Board of Accountancy Regulation 37.5

A licensee applying for renewal as a certified public accountant or public accountant who has not previously submitted fingerprints as a condition of licensure or for whom an electronic record of the licensee's fingerprints does not exist in the Department of Justice's criminal offender record identification database shall successfully complete a state and federal level criminal offender record information search conducted through the Department of Justice by the licensee's renewal date that occurs after December 31, 2013.

This is the implementation of the statutory requirement that the licensee be of "good moral character". You find this in Texas (§901.169). In Georgia, this is a consequence of Board Policy 19:

The Board designates the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy as its agent for the processing of applications for an initial license as a CPA, a reciprocal license as a CPA, and for reviewing applications for the initial registration of a firm for the practice of public accountancy.

Georgia also has a "good moral character" requirement, Rule 20-3-.08, but in this case there is no state-level requirement for fingerprints. Instead, this results from the policy making NASBA the agent for the state, and NASBA's determination that they need fingerprints to ascertain the identity of the individual taking the exam.

To get to first base with a legal challenge, you need a reasonable legal basis, not just a dislike of having a fingerprint taken. Given that pictures and signatures are required for many things (passports, driver's license, university ID) providing some concrete evidence of who you are is not unreasonable, and since the procedure is non-invasive (not a blood test) this is not a search at all. NASBA provides ample reasons in support of using fingerprints, so without a strong argument that your constitutional rights are being over-burdened, you have no basis for a legal action. And there no existing opt-out procedure.

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