Well, I messed up.
Yesterday, I posted about the pressure cooker story here and it turns out I had one part wrong. It wasn’t the National Security Agency and their surveillance that outed the couple for Googling “pressure cooker” and “backpack.” It was the husband’s ex-employers. They reported him to the local police, they came in with the SWAT team to investigate and found no criminal wrongdoing. Google does comply with data requests per company policies found here and there is this nifty little chart showcasing the number of data requests by governments with the U.S. having quite a bit.
So, the NSA didn’t see the search terms come over Google and then send out SWAT teams and investigators to interrogate the couple. However, there is still something to be said about the ex-employer who reported the search terms of their former employee. Since 9/11 and with the advent of the Homeland Security Department, there’s been this, “If you see something, say something,” culture and I find that a bit disheartening and troubling in itself.
Nevertheless, I was wrong and hopefully those that read the post yesterday or today will see this correction.