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Do Not Search For Pressure Cookers On Google!

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In fact, just stop using that Google shill all together.

Google 'Pressure Cookers' and 'Backpacks,' Get a Visit from the Cops

Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which prompts the question: How'd the government know what they were Googling?

atalano (who is a professional writer) describes the tension of that visit.

[T]hey were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked. ...

Have you ever looked up how to make a pressure cooker bomb? My husband, ever the oppositional kind, asked them if they themselves weren’t curious as to how a pressure cooker bomb works, if they ever looked it up. Two of them admitted they did.

The men identified themselves as members of the "joint terrorism task force." The composition of such task forces depend on the region of the country, but, as we outlined after the Boston bombings, include a variety of federal agencies. (The photo above is from the door-to-door sweep in Watertown at that time.) Among those agencies: the FBI and Homeland Security.

Also (this is the scary part):

Ever since details of the NSA's surveillance infrastructure were leaked by Edward Snowden, the agency has been insistent on the boundaries of the information it collects. It is not, by law, allowed to spy on Americans — although there are exceptions of which it takes advantage. Its PRISM program, under which it collects internet content, does not include information from Americans unless those Americans are connected to terror suspects by no more than two other people. It collects metadata on phone calls made by Americans, but reportedly stopped collecting metadata on Americans' internet use in 2011. So how, then, would the government know what Catalano and her husband were searching for?

It's possible that one of the two of them is tangentially linked to a foreign terror suspect, allowing the government to review their internet activity. After all, that "no more than two other people" ends up covering millions of people. Or perhaps the NSA, as part of its routine collection of as much internet traffic as it can, automatically flags things like Google searches for "pressure cooker" and "backpack" and passes on anything it finds to the FBI.

Or maybe it was something else. On Wednesday, The Guardian reported on XKeyscore, a program eerily similar to Facebook search that could clearly allow an analyst to run a search that picked out people who'd done searches for those items from the same location. How those searches got into the government's database is a question worth asking; how the information got back out seems apparent.

It is also possible that there were other factors that prompted the government's interest in Catalano and her husband. He travels to Asia, she notes in her article. Who knows. Which is largely Catalano's point.

They mentioned that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing. I don’t know what happens on the other 1% of visits and I’m not sure I want to know what my neighbors are up to.

One hundred times a week, groups of six armed men drive to houses in three black SUVs, conducting consented-if-casual searches of the property perhaps in part because of things people looked up online.

I suggest just throwing out your pressure cooker now for when the cops inevitable swing by to check up on you.

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An acquaintance told me he pranked one of his friends by looking up a bunch of illegal stuff using google on his computer. Then he left it all on his computer for him to find. He called it a ticking time bomb, because he expected the cops to break down his door. Its been a year and nothing.

In fact let me text him now and ask. Yep its been more than a year and the cops didn't knock down his door. In return his friend got a hold of his phone and his FB and went around telling people their kids are ugly and hitting on people via FB.


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There has to be more to the story than this, if I was searching for "RDX backpack Congress side entrance shrapnel" then I should get a visit too. There must be another reason.

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Its probably a watch list that gets you points. He must have bought Osama's biography and looked up Hitler for a book report. Now everyone will be searching for what he searched for. So if you do search for what he searched for.... is it like falsely calling 911?

There was that teen on LoL that said he'd shoot up some place and he got busted.

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Come to think of it... Since Facebook and Microsoft (Bing) have both run unsuccessful smear campaigns against Google.

Wow this is one fucked up article.

I think this is all sums it up >> The former employee’s computer searches took place on this employee’s workplace computer. On that computer, the employee searched the terms “pressure cooker bombs” and “backpacks.”

His work called him in. To top it off it was pressure cooker bombs he was googling. Not just pressure cookers. i have to wonder about the credibility of this Atlantic Wire. They are a part of a place that has several other publications including political publications.

The amazing thing here is Google and other search engines have 'other people are searching for' that will drop down when you start typing. Sometimes you accidentally click one. Even if that's not the case here, it could have been. Right now google 'pressure cooker ' with a space at the end. bomb is the first thing in the suggestion followed by recipe.

An ex employee looking for bombs would be worrisome. They wouldn't know if he's coming back with a bomb.

Oh and to top it off the dramatic photo in the article is from a different bomb sweep >> (The photo above is from the door-to-door sweep in Watertown at that time.)

Journalism worthy of being 'game journalism.'

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Make sure to search for other "provocative" terms first. You need to alert the government your true aim and intention.

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Rayzik said:

I have three of them. Come and get me fuckers, I'm obviously a terrorist.

I have a heavy cast & machined aluminium job that my grandparent's owned, probably make an excellent bomb with the right ingredients.

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To reiterate, I think his ex employer turned him in. Most likely out of fear that an ex employee would bomb the company.

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Well the UK is suppressed too since they're now trying to ban porn or whatever.

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Ha ha, and so it all turns out to be much ado about nothing - just as expected.

Honestly, even for the most 'evil' terms there's more legitimate scenarios to search for tham than suspicious ones. What about journalists doing research, for example? Should the police raid all their homes? So bottom line: Just thinking about the implications would quickly show that the entire article was not worth bothering.

Sometimes it's baffling how rampant paranoia in the US is and how easily people get scared by such irresponsible sensationalist 'journalism'.

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Graf Zahl said:

Honestly, even for the most 'evil' terms there's more legitimate scenarios to search for tham than suspicious ones.

For one, with so many shooter and strategy games, I bet that 99% of the world's usage of military, (counter)terrorism and weapons terminology and slang is done by 13yo CS-playing kids, rather than true (or wannabe) mercs and terrorists. Imagine e.g. if a videogame where you play as an Islamic or domestic terrorist existed and became mainstream...that would fuck up surveillance systems very quickly ;-)

In general, to get the authorities to actually come knocking (or smashing) on someone's door, there needs to have been some other kind of whistleblowing process (e.g. being personally ratted out or reported), which of course the authorities wouldn't be too keen on divulging its details.

Even when actual arrests of actual terrorists take place, it usually turns out that they were shortlisted and silently being watched for months (perhaps even allowed to act), before the authorities finally made an official move. There has never been any "immediate response" just because of a simple keyword search, due to the possibility of email or keyword jamming.

Even with computers to do the eavesdropping, processing that many data, weeding out false positives, deliberate jamming, irrelevant contextes etc. requires quite a lot of filtering and, at some point at least, a shortlisting and bureaucratic iter (aka if you are really a piece of work, only then they allocate actual human agents to your case). The modus operandi of such totalitarian methods is amply documented from regimes like Fascism, Nazi, Junta, DDR etc. and pretty much the same techniques are used today. The only difference is that thanks to computers, they don't need a ratio of 1 snitch/agent to every 7 citizens, like in the DDR.

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Whether the "tip-off from his company" explanation is true or not is another matter. I suspect it probably is. But it doesn't change the fact that the police and security services are certainly within a stone's throw of having that kind of power if they don't already have it.

On a side note, she was incredibly stupid to have let the police into her home without a warrant, answer any questions without a lawyer present, or - frankly - have spoken to them at all.

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DoomUK said:

America, land of the suppressed and home of rampant paranoia.

I like when people fear their X-Boxes will watch and listen to everything.... its always on.

Looks like it was a tip off from the former employer. Cops.... they'll swat anything, but I guess they have to.

I just fear the original article for its giant fearmongering. Taking a photo not even from the event to dramatics it. And well saying Googling pressure cooker was the trigger and not pressure cooker bomb.

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I'd better cancel my order of "9/11: the worst aviation accident to happen twice in a day".

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Maes said:

I'd better cancel my order of "9/11: the worst aviation accident to happen four times in a day".


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