Social media could become part of security clearance process

(Federal News Radio) For the past six months, the Director of National Intelligence has been trying to determine whether the government should do Google searches on people who hold security clearances.

Their question: Could publicly available information — the type that pops up when you type a name into a search box — tip off investigators that someone with access to sensitive government property may turn violent or become a spy?

The answer becomes more critical as the government moves toward evaluating security clearance holders all the time, rather than checking up on them every few years.

“We’re trying to identify whether or not it’s practical, viable and feasible to even use [social media] as part of the evaluation and adjudication process,” said National Counterintelligence Executive Bill Evanina, whose office within DNI is responsible for setting security policies.

In multiple pilot programs, investigators are monitoring volunteers’ online behavior. They are looking at “any and all information that’s literally available on the Internet without going through any password-protected information,” he said.

In addition to using Google searches, they are combing through government and commercial databases to look for details such as real estate or court records. They may also look at tweets and other public online communications. . . .

. . .  When investigators conducted a random sample of 300 people, they found that 28 percent of them — fewer than 100 people — had something in their social media files that would cause background investigators to take a second look. The red flag could be as simple as having foreign connections on a networking site like LinkedIn, the source said. . . . (read more)


Threats are Out There