This past year had a pandemic, murder hornets, and so many more newsworthy stories that served us shock value or entertainment. But our blog didn’t take a break from the interesting, crazy, or newsworthy questions either.

Here is our top five list of Ask CJ questions from the ClearanceJobsBlog, where you can read or discuss the government security clearance process, filling out your SF-86, how to get a security clearance job, or other background investigations issues.

#5: Buying Pills Online with Bitcoin and What it Means for Your Cleared Job

Drugs and security clearances are always a hot topic. But bitcoin has emerged as a hot topic for national security professionals, as well. First appearing in 2008, bitcoin is a cryptocurrency which uses cryptography for management, rather than relying on central authorities.

It’s relative recent emergence and the lack of clear policy is what makes bitcoin a gray area for security clearance holders.

In this case of Ask CJ, the subscriber had recently bought drugs online using bitcoin and wanted to know if he needed to list it on his SF-86. Spoiler alert: Definitely. Should you buy drugs online with bitcoin if you want a cleared job? Probably not.

#4: OnlyFans Account and Security Clearance Guidelines on Active Duty

Once it’s posted, your anonymity is toasted. Adult entertainment side hustle questions are nothing new to ClearanceJobs. While sexual behavior is a SEAD guideline you should be familiar with, the new online platforms where users are creating their own profiles and ‘sell’ personally created content adds new potential pitfalls for the security clearance holder. Blackmail could potentially come into play, or even certain cybersecurity concerns should be noted with any app where you’re creating a user account.

A subscriber to the ClearanceJobsBlog had an enlisted ‘friend’ who  wondered if posting on OnlyFans would affect the individual’s security clearance, or if they could lose their job for having an account without reporting it.  The person who does not submit an outside activity report could run into issues – whether it’s OnlyFans or any other side hustle. With permission, clearance holders are allowed to get second jobs, but each organization has different policies.

#3: Clearance Holder Worried Spouse’s Medicinal Marijuana Will Impact Their Clearance

One clearance holder was worried that their spouse’s medicinal marijuana use will affect their security clearance. They reside in a state where medicinal and recreational use is legal, but it is administered at their home by a nurse while the clearance holder is present.

They were aware of the drug use, so as a security clearance holder, this is an issue and you must report this information to your Facility Security Officer (FSO). The issue is that you cohabitate or associate with a drug user.  Under national security adjudicative guidelines, relatives or cohabitants currently living with you who are engaging in criminal activity can be hazardous to your ability to obtain or retain a clearance.

While spousal marijuana use can be a policy gray area, the best advice from security clearance attorneys and experts is to tread lightly. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, despite states legalizing it.

#2: Differences Between Tier 4 and Tier 5 Security Clearance Investigations

With the security clearance process continuously changing, and quality information about where you’re at in the process difficult to come by, the blog chatter  and Ask CJ column is good constant to have. This subscriber was  interested in how similar the T4 investigation was to the T5 background investigation. 

While the Tier 4 Investigation uses Standard Form 85P, the Tier 5 Investigation for TS/SCI level positions utilizes  the SF-86. The Tier 5 Investigation will be much more in depth and your investigation will start from scratch, even if you have a Tier 4 under your belt.

#1: Pornhub Viewer Worried Big Brother is Watching Google Searches

No, the government is not constantly perusing what your are searching for online .

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.

Now, if you are watching Pornhub on a government issued device, you’ll get in big trouble with big brother. Some sexual behaviors, like watching porn, could affect the granting or reinvestigation of a security clearance if it involves a criminal offense, indicating a personality or emotional disorder, or shows a lack of judgment.

Moral of the Story for Clearance Holders

The general moral of the story with the 2020 Ask CJ column:  if you work in a national security career or if you are thinking about applying for a clearance, exercise caution and common sense, and fill out all forms honestly.


Much about the clearance process resembles the Pirate’s Code: “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” This case-by-case system is meant to consider the whole person, increase process security, and allow the lowest-risk/highest-need candidates to complete the process. This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 


Related News

Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 7+ 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! 🇺🇸