Cops blame “pressure cooker” questions on ex-employer tip, not government surveillance

August 1, 2013

(Photo by Jack Liddon)

Earlier today we expressed skepticism about a woman's claim that six police officers had entered and searched her home after members of her family performed Google searches looking for information about pressure cooker bombs and backpacks. The story suggested this was the result of government monitoring of her family's Google searches.

"Somewhere out there, someone was watching," Michele Catalano wrote. "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."

As it turned out, someone was pawing through her husband's Google searches, but it wasn't the National Security Agency. It was his former employer. Here's how the Suffolk County Police explained the story:

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. On that computer, the employee searched the terms “pressure cooker bombs” and “backpacks.”

After interviewing the company representatives, Suffolk County Police Detectives visited the subject’s home to ask about the suspicious internet searches. The incident was investigated by Suffolk County Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Detectives and was determined to be non-criminal in nature.

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