EDWARDS AFB – If it’s one thing that has become very significant to our daily lives, it’s the use of social media. However, with a new federal policy in place, social media is now about to become significant to the federal background investigation process.
The Security Executive Agent Directive 5 (SEAD 5) — signed into practice last month by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — has expanded federal background investigations to incorporate the act of collecting “publicly available social media information.”
This translates to open information from social media sources such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
This new directive will apply to anyone taking part in a federal background investigation and during the continuous evaluation process for those who have access to classified information.
This policy permits authorized investigative agencies to consider looking at your social media if it deems necessary. This could be prompted by a lack of documented personal information or by a noticeable change found in a person’s lifestyle or character who works with classified information.
This new policy also comes with a lot of restrictions so that investigators do not violate your civil liberties. [Read the policy here.]
Investigators will be limited to only see and collect information from your social media that can be openly observed by the general public and will not have the authority to gain any further access into your accounts or ask for any passwords. This means that investigators will not be able to read any of your private messages, or see any media posts that would require a “friend request” to see them.
This policy will also limit investigators to only collect information from the social media source of the person who is being investigated and not from a relation of that person, such as a friend or a spouse. All information collected from open media sources, as well as the initiation of the search, will be recorded in an official investigation record.
If anything concerning is found from your social media, that information is collected and is used during the adjudication process to make further determinations within your federal investigation or continued access to classified information.
Any concerning information that is collected must also be verified before it can be used to make any decisions. Only cases involving a national security concern, or a criminal reporting requirement, will require immediate and direct action.
This new directive is an attempt to increase the effectiveness of the security adjudication process by understanding the importance and relevance of open online sources.