The Washington Times reported Sunday that applying to work for the feds won’t include a background check of your social media use:
The Obama administration has announced a new set of rules for government background checks — but still doesn’t require a review of applicants’ social media profiles, leaving the government well behind the private sector in vetting high-risk employees. …
[T]he Office of Personnel Management, which oversees background checks, said the bureau’s investigators still don’t have permission to delve through the social media accounts and profiles of applicants, forgoing a tool that all sides say is becoming more important in the 21st century.
I don’t have strong feelings on this. After all, the job applicants would undergo this investigation willingly and knowingly, and it’s their prerogative to consent to such scrutiny.
Also, I doubt—contrary the Times’ concern—that rummaging through people’s social media profiles will do much for the cause of safety. Anyone who would discuss their evil plot on Twitter and then apply for a government job probably doesn’t have the smarts to mastermind a criminal scheme.
What is outrageous, though, is that our government has scruples about looking at job applicants’ Internet activity with their consent, but it has no qualms about secretly spying on millions of Americans’ social media without our permission.
Here are just some of the ways the federal government keeps tabs on our online activities, ignoring the protections of the Fourth Amendment:
- Sending fake Facebook emails to implant malware on your computer that can take photos of you using its webcam and eavesdrop on you through its microphone
- Making a map of your social media connections so it can see who you know and talk to
- Using secret court orders to force Google, Facebook, and Microsoft to turn over user data every six months
- Scanning Twitter, Facebook, and other networks for keywords to track whether you use them—words like “pork,” “Mexico,” and “subway”
- Looking through your social media profiles for evidence that can be used in an IRS audit
Maybe the feds could apply some of their concern for the privacy of would-be employees to the rest of us?