Clearance Process Will Include Social Media Checks
One of the items included in the 2016 omnibus appropriations bill is the Enhanced Personnel Security Program. Why is this significant? Because it will direct agencies to screen social media sites twice within every 5 years as a part of the continuous evaluation process. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has not yet issued guidance on how agencies are to conduct the checks, how to verify any adverse information, or how to apply it using current adjudicative guidelines.
So what does this mean to a clearance holder? In a nutshell, publicly available information found on the internet, along with traditional checks like credit and criminal history, is fair game for investigators and will be reviewed for any potential concerns. Before you start crying about civil liberties and an invasion of privacy, think about the world we live in. Do you know that “someone” who posts vacation pictures on their Facebook page while they are on vacation? Or pictures of pets, beers, cars, parties, etc.? How about hitting the “like” button for a particular posting, YouTube video or website? LinkedIn profiles are a treasure trove of information. What about tweeting while they are at a concert or game? There are many out there that like to attract attention and let the whole world know what they are doing or have done, what they are buying, and in general, expressing their opinions for all to see or comment on.
If you are not doing anything illegal, unethical, or immoral then what’s the problem? If you are being responsible, using sound judgment, and are trustworthy then you have nothing to worry about! The security clearance process is supposed to determine if one is honest, has sound judgment, and can be trusted, so we should embrace any and all efforts to prevent the compromise of national security information. If you would like to read more about the bill you can go to Section 306 on H.R.4127, Subpart J, Chapter 110 – Enhanced Personnel Security Programs.