Social Media Review for Security Clearance Holders

Posted by Rob Riggins

ODNIThe Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced Friday that agencies may now include a social media review as part of the background investigation process for all security clearance holders.

What exactly this process will entail, which agencies will implement the policy and when (it’s optional by the way), how it will impact clearance reciprocity, are all to be determined. Some say that reviewing publicly available information is a natural part of the background investigation process. Others claim it’s an invasion of privacy.

You may well be put through this process during your next background reinvestigation. Over time we’ll learn more about the details and potential pitfalls. No doubt stories will unfold of inappropriate conclusions drawn. With the number of people involved in the process that is an unfortunate inevitability.

However, for the majority of security-clearance holders this should be a non-event. You already keep operational security top-of-mind in all social interactions, whether online or offline.

At this stage, what we do know are the key points from the Security Executive Agent Directive:

  1. The period covered by the social media review will be consistent with the timeframe covered by the investigation.
  2. The social media review will only take place after an individual has completed the SF-86 which will include a notice regarding the collection of this information.
  3. Unless there is a national security concern or criminal reporting requirement, any information obtained about other individuals will not be investigated or pursued.
  4. You will not be asked for login information or passwords for any social media accounts, nor asked to do anything that would expose non-publicly available social media information.
  5. The review will be automated “to the greatest extent practicable.”
  6. Agencies can’t try to friend, follow or otherwise engage with individuals for the purposes of this review.
  7. Potentially disqualifying issues will be administered using the typical adjudicative guidelines and review proceedings.

More background information from ODNI:

ODNI News Release DNI Clapper Signs New Policy on Social Media for Federal Background Investigations for Security Clearances

Security Executive Agent Directive 5

Director William Evanina’s Statement for the Record of Congress

Director William Evanina’s Op-Ed in The Hill.


This entry was posted on Monday, May 16, 2016 9:21 am

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