As if you didn’t know this before: it’s seriously time to think before you post to social media if you hold a security clearance or are applying for one.

The 2016 omnibus spending bill includes a provision that requires the Director of National Intelligence to “require agencies to implement a program to provide enhanced security review of covered individuals.”

This excerpt details the information sources agencies will be required to review:

“The enhanced personnel security program of an agency shall integrate relevant and appropriate information from various sources, including government, publicly available, and commercial data sources, consumer reporting agencies, social media, and such other sources as determined by the Director of National Intelligence.

The requirement is to review these sources at least twice every five years, the bill states. They also will be reviewed for security clearance applicants.

Federal News Radio reports that including social media and publicly available electronic information is key, according to Charlie Sowell, senior vice president for system and software engineering solutions at Salient CRGT, and a former senior adviser to the Director of National Intelligence.

“Social media” applies to any information an employee publicly posts on his or her accounts.

“There are so many things that people post on social media that could interfere with a person’s ability to maintain their security clearance,” says Catie Young, a lawyer who specializes in this area of law. “Actions related to drug or alcohol abuse, infidelity, sexual behavior, and gambling are things that could prevent someone from getting a clearance, or result in their clearance being revoked.”

Security Clearance and Social Media

Photos related to those sorts of activities are common on social media channels.

Young recommends that people who require a security clearance to get specific jobs review their social media and remove inappropriate or questionable posts, because those items might be reviewed during the application approval process.

“You must be truthful throughout the application and interview process,” Young says. “But keep in mind that there are circumstances that can mitigate activities and behaviors that otherwise might result in denial of your application.”

If you are going through the security clearance process and you have concerns about your application being denied, or you’re worried that an existing clearance might be revoked, we invite you to contact our office. We specialize in security clearance law and may be able to help.