The internet is free for anyone to use, and you might imagine it to be a very safe place for simple searches, unless you decide to crawl into the dark web. We look to buy simple everyday objects on the internet with ease, so much that some even buy toilet paper online. Your search engine is basically studying what kind of a person you are, what your shopping habits are, what your needs and insecurities are, where do you live, and even your medical conditions. There is hardly any way of staying completely anonymous on the internet, but these are certainly not the only problems.
When you sign into a public or work internet network, the network provider or your employer has access to your online activity. If you are looking for a gaming station or a dress for the party, you better not do it at work. If your curiosity drags you to search absurdly suspicious things, do NOT do it. All google searches are not even legal.
Your mind may not even be capable of imagining the kind of weird things that people search online. A man named Gilberto Valle was convicted for searching things like “Where to buy the world’s largest baking dish? How to properly tie a woman to a rotating life-size barbecue spit? How to chloroform a girl”? He looked for all of this in preparation of capturing women and roasting them to consume. The story has two lessons; one, don’t eat humans; two, when you are about to commit a crime, at least do not google search for it.
It makes sense to get into trouble for searching things relevant to murder and kidnapping, but did you ever imagine that looking for things as mundane as a pressure cooker or a backpack would involve the police? Apparently, it can. A couple from Long Island just had the privilege of a police visit, all for a couple of online searches. The blogger Michele Catalano was hunting a pressure cooker for making quinoa, while her husband looked for a backpack for his job, totally oblivious to the fact that the two items had been used in Boston bombing just a while back.
The joint terrorism task force decided to surprise the couple with a visit, just for the search. On finding out who the people were, the police dropped the suspicion, and the couple was good to go. No trouble happened here, but this dropped a lesson; your Google searches are watched, always.
The Suffolk County Police Department released a statement after the incident that read:
“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.”
Be careful what you search for!