The ClearanceJobsBlog is a place for professionals in national security to ask anonymous security clearance questions.

extracurriculars on PornHub and clearance Eligibility

One subscriber was concerned about their extracurriculars on Pornhub affecting their clearance eligibility:

“I am 4 years into a federal career as an engineer for the DOD and am eligible for a secret clearance. I regularly view pornhub and other sources of legal adult pornography (sites that display 2257) on my home computer – however never at work or on work hours. Additionally, I have never had any criminal history.

I sometimes worry/obsess about things and have performed google searches to the effect of “is pornhub legal” or “is there any illegal content on pornhub” This has yielded various results (which I have read over) such as quora, yahoo answers, and attorney advice websites of people asking about possibly stumbling across illegal content while viewing these sites.

While I never have never searched for or viewed illegal content before, I am worried that the mere act of performing a google search of the above quoted phrases could come up in a background investigation down the road and lead to further questions or denial. I know that social media usage and public online history is investigated, however am I unnecessarily worried about my internet search/browsing history coming up in my re-investigation down the road?”


Security clearance background investigators do not check your browsing history, read your emails, surveil your every move, bug your telephones, or photograph you commuting to work. That’s just not feasible, or allowable.

Since your browsing history would not be able to be viewed by a background investigator without a subpoena, a warrant would be required to actively search/trace your activities online. Secondly, there are no questions on the SF-86 pertaining to watching porn at home, and the subject would only come up from references being interviewed.

That being said, there are a few other concerns to keep in mind.


There are only few things that you should be worried about when it comes to porn on your time and your personal computer, just as described in a prior question about participating in OnlyFans while on active duty.

Some sexual behaviors, like watching porn, can affect the granting or reinvestigation of a security clearance if it involves a criminal offense, indicating a personality or emotional disorder, or shows you lacking judgment.

A criminal offense might include stumbling onto underage porn online. Blackmail is another concern. This could mean someone using information to pressure you, especially considering how your family would feel about the situation.

The most common instances of pornography becoming a personnel security issue are during the scope of a polygraph examination. If the polygrapher asks you if you have ever viewed underage pornography, and you can’t give a resounding no, that can be an issue. The other instance that is an increasing concern in the age of the coronavirus and the continuing blending of the personal and professional workday, is viewing pornography on a workplace device. Individuals have lost their jobs and their clearances for viewing pornography on a workplace device.


Applying for a national security position doesn’t mean the government gains access to your personal devices or that they are watching your every move.

As always, within national security careers or if you are thinking about applying for a clearance, exercise caution and common sense, and fill out all forms honestly.

Remember: honesty is the best policy when it comes to the security clearance process, but don’t give answers to questions they are not asking. If you haven’t viewed any illegal material and are not viewing these sites on government devices or at work, the issue might not come up.

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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸