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Couple Says Feds Came Knocking After Google Search For Pressure Cooker

LONG ISLAND (CBS) - It's something you probably do a dozen times a day — jump on your computer and enter a search into Google - but one Long Island couple did just that, and then heard a knock on the door from police, reports CBS New York.

Neighbors said Michele Catalano are your normal suburban couple, on Wednesday morning police descended on the home searching for evidence of terrorism.

As Catalano wrote on her blog: "Googling of certain things was creating a perfect storm of terrorism profiling."

Two separate searches of the words "backpack" and "pressure cooker" conducted days apart on the Mountain View Company's search engine via her husband's work computer were reported to police by the husband's employer, and then "six agents from the joint terrorism task force" came knocking on the door.

In a statement, authorities said: "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."

Suffolk County police weren't in the house. They asked Catalano's husband several questions and then determined there was no criminality. But the incident left people in the neighborhood wondering if there is any such thing as privacy anymore.

Michele Catalano didn't answer her door Thursday night, but wrote on her blog: "Mostly I felt a great sense of anxiety. This is where we are at. Where you have no expectation of privacy. Where trying to learn how to cook some lentils could possibly land you on a watch list."

Catalano is not giving interviews, but wrote that if she does decide to buy a pressure cooker in the near future she won't be doing it online, WCBS radio reported.

It was a lesson that in the post-9/11and post-Boston bombing world even simple Google searches could land you in the midst of a police investigation.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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