The pressure cooker search was reported to officials by a former employer, not Google. Michele Catalano’s home, in Long Island, New York, was searched by law enforcement on Wednesday. The incident led to a lot of speculation.
The officers mentioned internet searches for pressure cookers and backpacks. Catalano assumed that her family’s search history was being monitored by Google.
Michele Catalano posted her experience at Medium.com:
“Googling of certain things was creating a perfect storm of terrorism profiling… someone was watching. Someone whose job it is to piece together the things people do on the internet raised the red flag when they saw our search history.”
Catalano suspected that Google was monitoring pressure cooker searches made from their home computer. She assumed that Google contacted authorities, which prompted the search of the home.
Michele Catalano’s article sparked outrage. Internet users criticized Google for monitoring innocent searches. Some suggested the NSA was involved.
Catalano’s assumption led a lot of speculation. however, she was wrong.
It turns out that Michele’s husband, Todd Pinnell, was terminated by Speco Technologies in April. As reported by Tech Crunch, Pinnell’s former employer tipped the police, not Google.
A press release from the Suffolk County Police Department explains what happened:
“Suffolk County Criminal Intelligence Detectives received a tip from a Bay Shore based computer company regarding suspicious computer searches conducted by a recently released employee. The former employee’s computer searches took place on this employee’s workplace computer… the employee searched the terms ‘pressure cooker bombs’ and ‘backpacks.’”
The police statement continued, confirming that an investigation cleared the family of criminal activity.
Michele Catalano confirmed, through Tumblr, that the situation was clarified by the Suffolk Police department. She contends that officials searching her home never mentioned her husband’s former employer.
She states that she was telling the truth as she knew it, and the article was not intended to be misleading.
The pressure cooker search incident, and the implications, were unsettling. However, it appears that the entire incident was simply a misunderstanding.
[Image via Flickr]