Posted: 1:37 am ET
On May 12, 2016, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) authorized the use of social media by official investigators who are conducting background investigations for security clearances.
The directive addresses the collection and use of publicly available social media information during the conduct of personnel security background investigations and adjudications for determining initial or continued eligibility for access to classified national security information or eligibility to hold a sensitive position and the retention of such information. This affects prospective hires and all employees who are subjects of periodic investigations.
The policy says that agencies “may choose to collect publicly available social media information in the personnel security hackground investigation process, which pertains to the covered individual’s associations, behavior and conduct, as long as the information pertains to the adjudicative guidelines for making determinations of initial or continued eligibility for access to classified information or eligibility to hold a sensitive position.”
- Authorized investigative agencies may collect, usc, and retain publicly available social media information as part of a covered individual’s background investigation and, if collected, shall incorporate the relevant results in the investigative record. The period of coverage for publicly available electronic information will be consistent with the scope of the investigation.
- Authorized adjudicative agencies may use and retain publicly available social media information when determining initial or continued eligibility of a covered individual for access to classified information or eligibility to hold a sensitive position.
- Collection of publicly available social media information shall only be conducted after obtaining the signed Authorization for Release of information form of the Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, which includes notice of the collection of such information.
- Only publicly available social media information pertaining to the covered individual under investigation shall intentionally be collected. Absent a national security concern, or criminal reporting requirement, information pertaining to individuals other than the covered individual will not be investigated or pursued. Information inadvertently collected relating to other individuals will not be retained unless that information is relevant to a security determination or the covered individual.
The directive says that covered individuals “shall not be requested or required” to provide passwords, log into a private account; or take any action that would disclose non-publicly available social media information. Agencies are also precluded from creating accounts or using existing accounts on social media for the purpose of connecting (e.g., “friend”, “follow”) to a covered individual or enlist the assistance of a third party in order to bypass privacy controls and/or access otherwise non-publicly available social media information.
Read more below or see Collection, Use, and Retention of Publicly Available Social Media Information in Personnel Security Background Investigations and Adjudications, Security Executive Agent Directive 5, May 12, 2016.
Via FAS/Secrecy News: