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Government Privacy United States

Surveillance Story Turns Into a Warning About Employer Monitoring 382

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-that-doesn't-feed-my-paranoia dept.
rtfa-troll writes "The story from yesterday about the Feds monitoring Google searches has turned into a warning about how work place surveillance could harm you. It turns out that Michele Catalano's husband's boss tipped off the police after finding 'suspicious' searches (including 'pressure cooker bombs') in his old work computer's search history. Luckily for the Catalanos, who even allowed a search of their house when they probably didn't have to, it seems the policemen and FBI agents were professional and friendly. Far from being imperiled by a SWAT raid, Catalano spoke to some men in black cars who were polite and even mentioned to Catalano that 99 times out of 100, these tip-offs come to nothing. Perhaps the lesson is to be a bit more careful about your privacy, so that what you do on the internet remains between you and the professionals at the NSA."
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Surveillance Story Turns Into a Warning About Employer Monitoring

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  • Oh I see. The man searched thinks it was all just a misunderstanding. I guess that makes it OK then.

    I guess it also covers the costs in time, money, equipment and paperwork spent on a search that should never have happened. I guess it also makes up for any useful work the men involved could have been engaged in like looking for actual terrorists or investigating organised crime in the banks. I would worry about how the NSA's Ur-dragnet/Informer hotline is throwing up so many false flags that law enforcement is now too busy to deal with actual problem, but this splendidly chipper blog post had allayed all of my concerns.

    I'm glad that's all cleared up then.

    • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:13AM (#44455449) Homepage

      Even scarier is the acceptance of NSA monitoring as evidenced by the last line:

      Perhaps the lesson is to be a bit more careful about your privacy, so that what you do on the internet remains between you and the professionals at the NSA."

      It's not just /known/ that the NSA is monitoring everyone's conversation, it is seen as a good thing. Of course these "professionals" are listening. It's for the good of the country that the every citizen is monitored, after all.

      The bar is being set ever lower and comments like these train people to see it as perfectly alright. Increasingly I am of the opinion that this is not accidental.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah. It's called INFO-OPS. Read Richard Tomlinson's book (google it) on how the spooks try to control public conscience.

      • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:49AM (#44455805)

        Even scarier is the acceptance of NSA monitoring as evidenced by the last line:

        Perhaps the lesson is to be a bit more careful about your privacy, so that what you do on the internet remains between you and the professionals at the NSA."

        It's not just /known/ that the NSA is monitoring everyone's conversation, it is seen as a good thing. Of course these "professionals" are listening. It's for the good of the country that the every citizen is monitored, after all.

        The bar is being set ever lower and comments like these train people to see it as perfectly alright. Increasingly I am of the opinion that this is not accidental.

        I took that last line as being sarcastic. Maybe professionals should have been in scare quotes.

        You make a good point though. Various organizations actively try to influence the perceptions and attitudes of the public; from advertisers and marketers to political parties and the CIA. And people in the media are trained to use euphemisms and mild language to shape perception. So we get "enhanced interrogation" and "extraordinary rendition" instead of torture and abduction, and "detainee" instead of prisoner. Just last night I had to laugh when Brian Williams described Edward Snowden as having exposed a "massive data-mining effort" by the NSA. Really Brian, is it just a data-mining effort, or is it spying? How something is described matters quite a bit in how it is perceived. Just ask Frank Luntz, he's made a career out of it.

      • Even scarier is the acceptance of NSA monitoring as evidenced by the last line:

        Perhaps the lesson is to be a bit more careful about your privacy, so that what you do on the internet remains between you and the professionals at the NSA."

        Perception is everything.

        You took this quite literally, while I interpreted it as a sarcastic statement by the author.

      • by 0111 1110 (518466)

        I had the impression that the comment was not intended to be taken seriously.

      • You may want to look at my signature and posting history (not to mention the recommendation that everyone start's using Tor from the original submission [slashdot.org]). I guess maybe you could say that the editors deleted the part at the end because they didn't get the comment, but I assume they did it because they thought it was obvious.

        Generally though I agree people who just accept this are beyond scary to the extent of being a serious threat. There is a definite space for some limited secret monitoring and much p

      • Life lesson: Wherever you see the word "professional", always try replacing it with the word "banker".

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:14AM (#44455461)

      I'm glad that's all cleared up then.

      Snarking is my job on slashdot. If you called up the police and reported suspicious activity, wouldn't you feel better if they showed up and looked around? Of course you would -- that's a stupid question. Emblazoned on the side of almost every police car is the words "protect and serve". A lot of times, that means going out on a wild goose chase, or knocking on the door of a neighbor who doesn't realize his TV's turned up too loud, or even conducting a health and welfare check because some over-protective mother didn't get a call back from her daughter right away and insists "it's not normal". Most of the time, it's nothing -- but that is not time and resources wasted.

      It's the job of the police to investigate, and I'm pretty sure you and most everyone else would be blowing fuses left, right, and forward, if you rang up 911 and they said "Yeah, we could come out and have a look around, but you know how expensive gas is right now, so we're gonna pass." Well, I don't know about you, but if the police show up, act in a courteous and polite fashion, ask a few questions, and then leave satisfied nothing bad is going on, I consider that a job well done. They're out in the community, flying the flag, and helping people feel safe.

      That's equally important to stopping actual crime; A reputation of a helpless and inadequate police force costs a lot more than a few gallons of gas and some time spent filing a report that says nothing of interest was found. If only every police investigation could be like that...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by odigity (266563)

        If you called up the police and reported suspicious activity, wouldn't you feel better if they showed up and looked around?

        I never feel better around police. They're the predominant remaining natural predator of humans.

        • I never feel better around police. They're the predominant remaining natural predator of humans.

          Well, if that's how you feel, consider this: Who's better qualified to hunt down other predators than a predator? -_- Not that I agree with your assertion, but logically, your statements aren't consistent.

      • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc AT carpanet DOT net> on Friday August 02, 2013 @09:06AM (#44455951) Homepage

        > Well, I don't know about you, but if the police show up, act in a courteous and polite fashion, ask a
        > few questions, and then leave satisfied nothing bad is going on, I consider that a job well done.
        > They're out in the community, flying the flag, and helping people feel safe.

        You should try living next door to my old neighbour. The problem here is the assumption that people who report things are reasonable and sane people.

        The fact is, they should investigate if there is a reason to investigate and it should be more than perfectly normal behaviour (ie shopping and reading material related to recent news articles) to be suspected of anything.

        The bigger problem, I think, is this notion that a terrorist attack happening is a failure of the police and intelligence services. In the end, its such a needle in a haystack sort of problem that its entirely unreasonable to think they can ever be prevented, therefore any acceptance of that reasoning that starts with they should be able to catch it, inevitably leads to excessive measures, and guarantees more excessive measures later WHEN the next one happens.

        • You should try living next door to my old neighbour. The problem here is the assumption that people who report things are reasonable and sane people.

          Umm, there's no assumption being made by any experienced law enforcement officer. They're trained investigators -- they don't just take people at their word. If they did, the prisons would be empty. The police are well aware of the problem children in the community -- the people who call their neigbor for every little thing. They see it all the time.

          But yes, of course they still come out and investigate the report: It's good customer service. Your neighbor might be a paranoid jerkwad, but he's still a tax p

      • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday August 02, 2013 @09:28AM (#44456133)

        This comment really surprises me coming from you. Usually you seem to be on the side of good, and of liberty and privacy and presumption of innocence. You seem to be looking at things from the POV of society. I look at things from the POV of the individual, of the innocent victim of such searches. Of course in this particular case the victim was complicit in the violation of their own rights. So I have little sympathy for them.

        But in a case where a search warrant is granted when it should not have been because the probably cause was pretty slight I think the victims should be compensated for the mistake. A google search should never, ever, ever be probable cause for a search of someone's home or car. The lack of permission in the constitution itself, as well as the first and fourth amendments should be protecting us from overly suspicious people invading our privacy because of something we said or wrote. An important part of the freedom of speech is that what we say, especially in an environment with at least some expectation of privacy, should not result in persecution by our government. The NSA could easily set up a system to send FBI agents with a signed search warrant, to the home of everyone who searched google for something like, "how to build a nuclear weapon". That is not the kind of society I want to live in.

        The fact that it was a work associate who contacted the FBI instead of the NSA does not improve matters in my view. Such calls should simply be ignored. I have little doubt that millions of people every day search for things that other people would find suspicous. The fact that another citizen is suspicious of me does not give the government any additional rights to violate my rights. Unfortunately American society is becoming a place where we are all each other's enemies, working as government informants against each other, potentially bringing down the wrath of government agents down on us with their groundless suspicions. This case should never have happend. The FBI should never have searched anything based on a google search. That is just stupid and a huge waste of resources that would be better spent protecting citizens from real crimes. Ones with actual victims. The government agents in this case should be fired or at least demoted.

        • by chihowa (366380)

          She works with cops. All of her otherwise spot-on insight goes completely out the window when the discussion shifts to law enforcement. It's the cognitive dissonance one must have to work with monsters and still maintain that you are not a monster.

          The cops she works with are probably OK guys to her. They're OK guys to each other, too. But then, Mafia thugs drink and play cards together as well. How a group treats its own is not the measure of how good the members are, especially when they can ruin the lives

        • Of course in this particular case the victim was complicit in the violation of their own rights. So I have little sympathy for them.

          You aren't required to excercise your rights. Nobody puts a gun to your head to demand you vote, for example. It wouldn't be a right if it didn't confer a choice of some kind. Your lack of sympathy here is distressing; What the police did here was not substantially different from a door to door salesman. They showed up, rang the bell, had a conversation, and left. There was no excercise of police authority other than showing credentials, nothing that any other citizen couldn't have done.

          But in a case where a search warrant is granted when it should not have been because...

          Because what? A sear

      • Well, I don't know about you, but if the police show up, act in a courteous and polite fashion, ask a few questions, and then leave satisfied nothing bad is going on, I consider that a job well done.

        As a thought experiment, imagine that the couple had been Muslim, but otherwise exactly the same people. Does anyone honestly still think the visit by police would have been so courteous and polite? And yet in the USA we supposedly have freedom of religion, which should guarantee equal treatment by law enforcement whatever one's beliefs.

        And it doesn't matter where the tip came from, this kind of thing is wrong, potentially dangerous, and not the way I want my Country to be. So it's just civilians spying on

  • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Friday August 02, 2013 @07:57AM (#44455309) Homepage Journal

    I take away a different lesson from this: maybe it's a good idea to wait until you have more facts before starting to run around screaming "The sky is falling!!!!111".

    The fact that some real shady things in terms of corporate and governmental surveillance do go on is no reason to just give up being rational.

    • I take away a different lesson from this: maybe it's a good idea to wait until you have more facts before starting to run around screaming "The sky is falling!!!!111".

      Nah, the cool new thing for security theater lemmings is "If you see something, say something."

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:23AM (#44455543)

      I take away a different lesson from this: maybe it's a good idea to wait until you have more facts before starting to run around screaming "The sky is falling!!!!111".

      Clearly, this middle manager only watches CNN and FoxNews. And let's be honest: It's the only thing playing in most break rooms, and middle managers aren't known for their critical thinking and investigative talents.

      The fact that some real shady things in terms of corporate and governmental surveillance do go on is no reason to just give up being rational.

      Neither is it a reason to ignore the fact that the police showed up, were polite and courteous, asked a few questions, and left satisfied. Now look, I'm no more happy having the police show up at my door than anyone else -- but by and far, the experiences have been professional, as this person learned. I've had people call in all kinds of things to the police about me; I know because they keep records of that kind of thing and I know the right people to ask to get them.

      Every one of you past the age of 30 has something in their police file from a "concerned citizen." All of you. Yes, even you, Mr. Above Average Driver who pays all his bills on time and even helps his land lady carry out the garbage. But most of you don't know about it because the police conducted their search discreetly, found nothing, and moved on. Which is exactly how surveillance should work. And most of the time, that is how it works; you guys only hear about the 1 in 10,000 case where they screw it up, not the other 9,999 where nothing newsworthy happened because they did it right.

      This wouldn't be news if it wasn't for the news agencies creating a story where there really isn't one to sell more advertising. "Over-zealous middle manager of questionable technical ability reports ex-employee after searching internet history and finding a few keywords and deciding it's a matter of national security..." is not exactly interesting to me, and it wouldn't be if not for the drum beat of "NSA... NSA... NSA..." all over the news right now. Please. Former employers are like ex-boyfriends -- take everything they say with a biiiig grain of salt.

      • >>Every one of you past the age of 30 has something in their police file from a "concerned citizen."

        I sure as hell hope I've got a police record, and one day I hope to be able to look at it, and see what I've been accused of.

  • by Pino Grigio (2232472) on Friday August 02, 2013 @07:58AM (#44455317)

    Perhaps the lesson is to be a bit more careful about your privacy, so that what you do on the internet remains between you and the professionals at the NSA.

    So, this story turns out to be nothing to do with the NSA but you think what the hell, I'll add a sarcastic sentence about the NSA to the summary to make it look like its malign.

  • A nice friendly just acting on a tip search where "nothing really happened" or a full on uncalled for swat raid.

    For the affected family directly, sure the nice friendly one is better, but more attention is drawn by the swat raid and the public reacts more. This shit can't be tolerated without something really solid, and researching on the subjects of recent news items isn't anywhere near solid.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:05AM (#44455381)

    Perhaps the lesson is to be a bit more careful about your privacy, so that what you do on the internet remains between you and the professionals at the NSA.

    I know you're being snarky, Slashdot, but I'd trust the professionals at the NSA over middle management any day of the week. The NSA doesn't ruin your life if it goes through your google history and finds a few keywords. It doesn't assume the worst. The NSA gathers up the data, forwards it to a team of analysts, and, seeing this kind of thing every day, make an informed and reasoned decision to either forward it up the chain, or bin it. And as your own article says: 99 times out of 100, it's nothing. That's probably a conservative estimate; There have only been a few dozen acts of bona fide terrorism in the past year or so, and if the tin foil hat crowd is right, the NSA is monitoring everyone pervasively, so it's more like 999,999 times out of a 1,000,000.

    The moral of the story here is that people who aren't law enforcement are really, really, epic bad at being judges of character. Especially when you're dealing with someone whose job is often earned on something other than critical thinking skills, investigative talent, and attention to detail... three things I think most will agree you don't find in most mid-level managers. It's like how during the midst of the Boston bombing, the internet armchair sleuth crowd wrongly identified many innocent people and forced the police to divert valuable resources to take those people into protective custody while the real bomber was left unidentified. The professionals, meanwhile, correctly identified them hours later, and then took them down without any innocent people getting caught in the cross fire.

    I know it's politically popular right now to say law enforcement is a bunch of clueless, authoritarian, surveillance-happy asshats, but that's a slanted view. On the whole, they know what they're doing, and most of the time they get it right. You only hear about the times when they screw up. Now, considering how low of esteem they're held in for that track record, ask yourselves about the track record of middle managers, internet armchair pundits, and vigilantes have had doing the same things... and I'm betting their reputation with you is a lot better.

    Chew on that for a bit.

    • Perhaps the lesson is to be a bit more careful about your privacy, so that what you do on the internet remains between you and the professionals at the NSA.

      I know you're being snarky, Slashdot, but I'd trust the professionals at the NSA over middle management any day of the week. The NSA doesn't ruin your life if it goes through your google history and finds a few keywords. It doesn't assume the worst. The NSA gathers up the data, forwards it to a team of analysts, and, seeing this kind of thing every day, make an informed and reasoned decision to either forward it up the chain, or bin it.

      And, they've never caught a single terrorist. Pretty impressive results.

      • And, they've never caught a single terrorist. Pretty impressive results.

        Yup. They're going to track you down personally and inform you of the results of any investigation that results in finding a terrorist straight away! The fact that they didn't is proof that no terrorists have ever been found.

        What makes you think that law enforcement would advertise every capture of a terrorist, thus turning him/her into a martyr for his/her cause? If it were me, I wouldn't be making a press release on every terrorist I caught... I'd quietly take them into custody and interrogate the shit o

        • by sjames (1099)

          My tiger^Wterrorist repelling rock has prevented thousands of deaths in the U.S. this year alone. I need funding to maintain it though, 5 mil a year should cover it. Contact your Congressman now and urge him to fund my tiger^Wterrorist repelling rock now before it's too late!

    • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@gmail.LAPLACEcom minus math_god> on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:43AM (#44455739)

      The NSA gathers up the data, forwards it to a team of analysts, and, seeing this kind of thing every day, make an informed and reasoned decision to either forward it up the chain, or bin it.

      Your cute and idealistic assessment is at odds with (at least) the fact that the gathered NSA data was dumped into a huge database where a low-level outside contractor could access all of it. I'd feel better if the data went to a team of professional analysts and not into an easily abusable database which may or may not be studied by analysts.

      There have only been a few dozen acts of bona fide terrorism in the past year or so, and if the tin foil hat crowd is right, the NSA is monitoring everyone pervasively, so it's more like 999,999 times out of a 1,000,000.

      It is more likely to be nothing 1,000,000 out of 1,000,000 times. A "terrorist" that relies on google and pressure cookers to plan their act is a pathetic basement dweller that lacks the resources to actually do anything. I'd be interested in hearing about that 1 out of 1,000,000 where they caught someone credible, who could have succeeded. And (in TFA case) that same person would have to lack the capacity to not answer the door and move to another city after a visit from government agents.

      Boston bombing ... The professionals, meanwhile, correctly identified them hours later, and then took them down without any innocent people getting caught in the cross fire.

      However, they were neither able to prevent the act, nor have they used the years and years of indiscriminately stored data. They used current recordings from volunteers, I believe. So the result of the Boston bombing would have been the same without preventative surveillance.
      They are competent, but NSA's total surveillance has not improved their ability to do their job.

  • Prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:05AM (#44455383) Homepage Journal

    Prediction: this article will not get 850 comments [slashdot.org], and many people will continue pointing to this story as proof that Google lets the federal government rifle through all of everyone's data.

  • 99 out of 100 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gsslay (807818) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:06AM (#44455389)

    99 times out of 100, these tip-offs come to nothing

    That's not quite what was said. From the original blog ; "they mentioned that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing."

    So we have three possibilities;

    1/ this statistic is a bullshit overstatement, talking up a minimal danger
    2/ they are arresting terrorist bombers at a rate of 1 a week
    3/ they are prosecuting 1 person a week on an unrelated matter, after gaining access to their house on the pretext of "war against terrorism".

    Which do we think it is?

    • i choose option 4.

      4. they are trying to justify the massive amount of money that has been put into pointless SWAT teams.

      • by Fnord666 (889225)

        4. they are trying to justify the massive amount of money that has been put into pointless SWAT teams.

        Here [wsj.com] is a recent article in the WSJ that discusses this.

    • Re:99 out of 100 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bws111 (1216812) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:26AM (#44455573)

      None of the above. It is the equivalent of Columbo's 'oh, you know, headquarters makes me ask these questions, nothing to worry about'. It puts the person at ease, and maybe they let their guard down a bit.

    • So we have three possibilities;

      1/ this statistic is a bullshit overstatement, talking up a minimal danger
      2/ they are arresting terrorist bombers at a rate of 1 a week
      3/ they are prosecuting 1 person a week on an unrelated matter, after gaining access to their house on the pretext of "war against terrorism".

      4/ The guy being interviewed was trying to illustrate in layman's terms how un-newsworthy a police investigation like this really is, and how most of his job consists of investigations just like this.

      Why do you expect this to be some kind of scientifically rigorous statement, is the better question. It clearly isn't. But in spite of the obviousness of this, you go on to weave a tapestry of half-truths and assumptions and then act like these are the only possible conclusions. False dichotomy, anyone?

      As far a

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      2/ they are arresting terrorist bombers at a rate of 1 a week

      For some reason, I think that a terrorist bomber will not answer the door in this situation.
      Since this is a "friendly" visit, I assume they have no warrant and would need to come back later.

  • by gallondr00nk (868673) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:07AM (#44455397)

    If there was some sort of massive sifting of google terms by local law enforcement, or the NSA were passing on every single combination of "pressure cooker + backpack", there wouldn't be an isolated incident, there would be tens of thousands of these investigations. How many other terms would get similar scrutiny? Would local police act on all of the millions of searches that would throw up a red flag?

    The police might be increasingly militarized, but they aren't limitless in either manpower or funding, as much as they would have you believe otherwise.

    What I'd like to know from all this is why the police are now so frequently travelling around in armed units just to conduct inquiries.

  • Perhaps the lesson is don't search for a pressure cooker bomb at work, dumbass.
    • by Max_W (812974)
      So this device kills and inflicts heavy injuries on hundreds people on the streets, and we have no right to get any information on it.

      I, for example, never saw such a thing. And now I am afraid even to make a search to have a look at its image. But how I will recognize one to save my colleagues or bystanders when I see one?
      • You're right, I'm scheduling pressure cooker bomb awareness week in my workplace ASAP. Then we can learn the minute, actually imperceptible difference between a pot-luck lunch pressure cooker and a bomb and save everyone from either explosions or chilli.
  • by jaseuk (217780) on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:13AM (#44455445) Homepage

    Typing "pressure cooker" lists pressure cooker bomb as the 3rd suggestion in Google.

    Jason.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      It's his boss nosing around on his old computer. It doesn't really matter which one of a dozen completely reasonable explanations it is. Hell, the guy could have been innocently looking up pressure cooker bombs. Certainly a lot of people did when it was in the news. But his boss has no clue what he's doing. He's not a trained investigator or analyst of any kind. He sees some things that look to him like a search for a "pressure cooker bomb" and he calls the police.

  • I googled 'pressure cooker bomb' recently because I didn't even know they existed until I heard about them on the news.

    Moral of the story: don't be curious about Bad Things.

    Or maybe the moral is "ban the news." It just spreads information about Bad Things.

  • by onyxruby (118189) <.onyxruby. .at. .comcast.net.> on Friday August 02, 2013 @08:23AM (#44455541)

    A surveillance society is still a surveillance society and this story simply reveals how this is done in the real world. While lots of people have fantasies about the NSA reading their email or looking at their porn habits in the real world this is done by peoples employers day in day out.

    Put down the tin foil hats, have a wake up call and realize that your employers are the ones performing the real world surveillance on the contents of your browsing, email and other habits.

    • Put down the tin foil hats, have a wake up call and realize that your employers are the ones performing the real world surveillance on the contents of your browsing, email and other habits.

      If this is anything to go by, I can rest easy knowing that middle management is exactly as incompetent as Dilbert portrays them to be. I'd rather have the NSA going through my browsing history than these marginally competent people who aren't exactly known for their critical thinking and investigative talents. Plus, over-zealous middle managers have ruined my life plenty of times. To date, no men in black appearing out of cadillacs to "ask me a few questions" have exacted that level of devastation on my lif

    • No. Even if the employer submitted half of the search info, the info on the backpacks had to be provided by another source and then had to to matched. Where did that info come from? Google? NSA backdoors on home computers? The interesting part of the story (if indeed true) is the other half of the info.

      • What is the story went like this, "NSA Surveillance matches a person who has traveled out the country, possibly foreign national living in Long Island that did a Google search for pressure cookers and backpacks. It is learned that these searches were done on a corporate asset. NSA contacts corporation and explains that under FISA law they are (gagged) not allowed to talk about the incident and would be shielded from legal harm resulting in any future lawsuits, oh and thanks for the tip."

  • so that what you do on the internet remains between you and the professionals at the NSA

    That is a disheartening line, to say the least. It implies that I, a citizen ( not of the USA, but that does not matter anything at all in the current security craze context ) should take the NSA's simply for granted.

  • SiMplY put, this was a sIlly MisunderstAnding, nothing More. WEll it remiNds me of this Time we TOok the dc MEtro from Crystal City to Archives AND ALong the way somehow we got Lost Inside the pentaGOn sTop. We ended up ASking THIS poLice Officer for instrUction. SuddenlY there was a BOoMing voice on the speaker nearBy adVising pEople to STay with their belongings. Then we noticed ALL of the trAins tHere were not rUnning. And Know why? BAckpack we had left in a caR!

    oops!

  • So dad searched pressure cookers at work and the employer allegedly turned this over to the cops, but who turned in mom's Google search history? How was the match made? Was there a request made too Google? Did the Feds hack the computers using a MS-NSA or Apple-NSA backdoor? According to the article, the task force didn't even look at the computers or confiscate them.

    This is only half a story, (if it is indeed true about the employer turning over the suspicious weblogs). How did the Feds/Police/Joint Task Force get the other half of the info.

    And according to the article this occurs 100 times per week and we are just hearing about it.

    There is more to this story and this simple explanation is only half of it.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Friday August 02, 2013 @09:13AM (#44455987) Homepage Journal

    You CAN be too careful.

    Before calling the police in a non-urgent situation, ask yourself

    "If everyone in my exact situation called the police, a few crimes may be prevented but a lot of lives would be intruded on and a lot of police resources and taxpayer money would be spent. Would it be better for society if, as a rule, the police were called in this exact situation or if, as a rule, they were not?"

    This goes not just for bombs but for thinks like someone unfamiliar walking around your neighborhood at 3AM, your kid's friend sporting frequent unexplained bruises, and the guy who who hangs round the local kiddie park without kids in tow.

    Each of these "no matter what I do, there's a good chance that I could wind up doing the wrong thing" cases and many others like it require a gut-check and a realistic assessment of the situation before calling the police. Sometimes the "best answer" is to call the cops. Sometimes the "best answer" is to talk to the person acting suspicious or get friends and neighbors together and talk to the person. Sometimes the "best answer" is to do nothing.

    Finally, if you do make a well-thought-out decision and it turns out to be wrong - if you DON'T turn in the guy who searches for pressure cookers and he turns out to be a bomber, or if you DO turn him in and as a result the police are busy interviewing the person and can't get to an armed-robber-in-progress call in time to avoid bloodshed, don't feel guilty about your decision.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Friday August 02, 2013 @09:47AM (#44456331)

    I don't use work PCs for anything but that. If I want personal connectivity I can pay for it.

    Jobs which do not use computers don't pay for me to surf on their time, either.

    A computer is like any other tool, for example a milling machine or a welder. If I want to borrow one of those for a bit, I ASK the shop owner.

In the sciences, we are now uniquely priviledged to sit side by side with the giants on whose shoulders we stand. -- Gerald Holton

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