Can you Google/Amazon absolutely anything you want without the police ever showing up?

So there is a guy on TikTok who dedicates his channel to “trying to get the FBI at [his] door”.

His entire schtick is asking suspicious questions on google and ordering large amounts of suspicious items.

He googles the recipe for chloroform, orders 40 pressure cookers and boxes of nails at the same time, bought 70 tins of Uranium ore (see here) etc.

My question is, there any precedent whatsoever for American authorities ever surveilling/responding to any google search or amazon order or can one literally look up anything they can think of and unless you actually commit a crime (which you can’t do buy just googling things or buying things on amazon) it’s impossible to get authorities to take notice?

If there is any government program that is tracking Google and Amazon searches for purposes of sending police to your house, it is not known publicly. In most circumstances the government would need a warrant to even collect this information, and would need some justification to a judge to get said warrant.

Even to this day the full scope of some of the intelligence gathering systems that Edward Snowden released data on aren’t fully understood, but AFAIK most of those programs were monitoring metadata and such, I’m not sure there was ever any proof or evidence they were monitoring everyone’s search engine queries.

The companies themselves could have some system that flags “troublesome” searches, but it would likely generate a massive amount of false positives and created incredibly bad will among their customers, so it seems unlikely to me they do that.

My guess is you’d probably have to have been ordering something dodgy from someone they’ve already got their eye on: or they’ve already got some other reason for being interested in you, in sufficient strength that it leads to a search warrant. They haven’t got time for fishing expeditions based on casual possibilities.

If you’re already on a terrorist watch list and they have reason to believe you are a credible threat they can (try to) get a search warrant to see what you’re up to, but ordering legal things online, as far as I know, is not illegal.

Now if you are on the Dark Web secretly ordering enriched uranium from North Korea that would be very different and I would expect someone to come knocking on your door as soon as your package arrived in the US.

Are any of the items illegal to own or possess, in the quantities he’s ordering them? Otherwise, I don’t know how much the police would do. Perhaps if it was combined with something else (some threat to somebody, or an online manifesto), that might trigger a police interview. But even that would likely be a voluntary encounter, as opposed to something that law enforcement could compel.

I can imagine the ads that show up on the sides of web sites for him…

Obligatory xkcd:

Let’s see his success if he orders a 14 year old prostitute on the dark web.

Supposedly this has happened where a family who’s home Amazon search history included “Pressure Cookers”, “Backpacks” and searching Google for news about the Boston Bombings prompted the NYPD to knock on this families door and ask questions. The NYPD claim though the husband had been searching for those at work and the husbands boss had made the tip-off and that they never search the internet search history of people without a warrant.

I would think that if the authorities developed an interest in this guy, they’d check his internet presence and find his YouTube channel. They might then decide it’s a waste of their time.

So his plan worked!

Law enforcement can and have obtained “keyword warrants” requiring Google to provide information on all users who searched for a specific term. The cases cited below are not as broad as what the OP is looking for. These are warrants requesting data on users who searched for specific terms within a limited period of time relevant to a specific crime – not “standing” warrants that would require Google on an ongoing basis to report any users who search for suspicious terms. On the other hand, we don’t know how broad some of these warrants might be because most of them are sealed.

The problem is volume of data - for example, “pressure cooker” or “fertilizer” is likely too broad. However, some items, like “acetone” are a lot less likely to be googled and have a more specific application, but may still be too broad. (Although when I was young, the pro shop where I caddied used acetone to wipe down the fibreglas golf carts. And it is actually nail polish remover. ) Trying to match multiple different hits to an IP address is more likely to get you a large corporation or a hotel or Starbucks.

I have even googled the floor plans of the White House, while reading one of the recent tell-all books. To find, surprising to me, the Oval Office is not in the middle of the traditional original building as you might thing from the visible shape. Nor is the “West Wing” the west half of the original building. I hope my enlightenment did not set off flashing red lights with the FBI.

They can ask for lists of who did certain searches. They might even use cross-matching and AI to narrow the list down. But ultimately, if the number of hits is too big, the authorities will not have the manpower to look at all the suspect hits.

There’s also the "flash crowd’ effect. If some simple term is mentioned by the news, or a popular web article, then likely hundreds of thousands of people will be googling that for weeks. Did you look up the house and street where that couple threatened BLM protesters with their guns? I did. (Months later, thanks to another news article - they were arguing over the back yard property line) Doesn’t mean I’m going to do anything to them. .

I have difficulty believing Amazon or eBay are going to flag suspicious purchases. Their overriding concern is making money, whether from scammers or would-be miscreants.

It’s a lot more likely that a seller might be wary of dodgy purchases. When I lived in Texas, I stopped in at a feed and garden supply place one Saturday to buy a sack of fertilizer which contained ammonium nitrate. The clerk gave me the fisheye and asked what I wanted it for (this was not too long after the OKC bombing). “Uh, to fertilize my garden.” Sheesh, did it occur to the guy that people might want to buy fertilizer at a store called Southwest Fertilizer?

Was it a 3-ton sack?

I’d imagine authors of spy/espionage novels, horror novels, or basically any fiction novels could build up some pretty impressive and concerning search histories as they craft their stories. How fast does chloroform work? Would a bear trap break a human leg, or just crush it? How do you launder money? Will lye completely dissolve a human body? Or dozens other queries to nail down plot specifics.

Well, we had a big garden.

As the ability to gather information keeps increasing, the problem of analyzing that information increases. It is likely already far beyond the scope of human monitoring in the first steps. Software is probably doing the first multiple steps of weeding out false positives. Long ago I pondered making a program that would randomly access websites in one window, while I actually did my real browsing in another window or instance of a browser. Just to send a bunch of random crap to the powers that be snooping.
So I consider that if I thought of it that long ago, so did they. Likely some level of software parsing that sort of scam out of the flag file.
More likely that a higher level combination of data is being collated. And in depth tracking of ultimate solutions is being analyzed. Did he actually buy all those pressure cookers? Who is also in emails? What is in the emails? Phone data. Location data. Have you seen the size of the data storage and processing facilities?
I suspect they have taken into account various spoofing schemes. But if you wish to give them a bit more of a hard time, you can. But it may come to a nasty knock/breakdown on the door.
In the end. If you attempt to make the task harder for the spies, the spies will get more of your tax dollars to more effectively spy on you. Even if it is just to exercise your rights to privacy. Frustrating Catch 22.
At the moment. It seems the domestic spies aren’t really doing very well. Unless you actually meet up with them. Get all friendly. Accept their money, plans and actually help them to help you do some half assed plot. Those giant data gathering and sifting systems seem pretty useless.
Most of the plots the FBI bust, are wholly created by the FBI.