Investigators can now probe Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites as a part of background checks for security clearances — something that lawmakers said Friday was a classic case of the government playing catch-up with technology.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper signed a policy directive announced Friday that allows investigators to collect publicly available social media information pertaining to the person whose background is being checked. Unless there is a national security concern or the need to report a crime, any information pertaining to people who appear in the subject’s social media will not be investigated or pursued, the directive says.

“It defied common sense for the government to overlook social media data available to anyone with an Internet connection,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Committee. He said he was glad the intelligence community was taking the step to fix “such a glaring lapse in our security clearance process.”

“It may surprise many readers to know the government only now is codifying its approach to the virtual lives of the people it entrusts with real secrets,” William Evanina, who leads the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, wrote in an opinion piece announcing the new policy Friday in The Hill newspaper. “What may be less surprising is that technology often outpaces policy.”

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Image courtesy of freebackgroundcheckssite.com

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