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Google Searches & Big Brother Comes Knocking

By Martie Hevia | Blue Beach Song™

A freelance writer and blogger, Michele Catalano, a mom and wife, discovered what happens when you Google pressure cookers from home and your husband Googles backpacks from work, even if the searches are weeks apart… quite simply, six Federal agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force come knocking at your door.

The story came into my email’s inbox this afternoon via an article from the local CBS website, Couple Says Feds Came Knocking After Google Search For Pressure Cooker, and, after reading it, I was left dumb-founded.

As much as I didn’t want to believe it, I had to find Ms. Catalano’s blog post and read it from the horse’s mouth so-to-speak, after all, sometimes the news media doesn’t get all the details right. Perhaps it wasn’t quite as bad as they made it sound?

Ms. Catalano’s blog post, pressure cookers, backpacks and quinoa, oh my!, recounts her husband’s experience when the Federal agents wanted to look around the place and ask a few questions. “Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker.”

“Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker.”

This mother wondered in her blog post if her “exceedingly curious news junkie of a twenty-year-old son” might have read some articles after the Boston bombings on the CNN website and clicked on one-too-many links. And some government agency somewhere connected that with her search for a pressure cooker in which to cook lentils and her husband looking to buy a backpack and you have a perfect storm of suspicion.

Scary stuff.

As someone who used to read encyclopedias as a little girl and spent weekends in the library doing research, I love the Internet. I look everything up, and cross-reference what I find, and cross-reference the cross-references, and get lost in where the search for knowledge takes me. Unfortunately, in the last couple of months, I find myself thinking twice about searching anything on the Internet.

Could this search be misconstrued? Should I read that article? Should I write that blog post?

Coincidentally, this morning’s news about Edward Snowden getting temporary asylum in Russia brought to the forefront in my mind his allegations and warnings that the U.S. government is spying on American citizens, from phone calls to Internet searches, and then a story like the one Ms. Catalano recounts comes along and it certainly gives one pause and food for thought. It is worth a read.

And perhaps the lengthy blog post I wrote a month ago on Mr. Snowden’s revelations, A False Choice: National Security or Individual Rights & Freedoms, might be worth a second read…

Then again, Big Brother might be watching.

Martie Hevia (c) 2013 | All Rights Reserved

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