Following a multi-year ordeal where various Internet Protocol address were linked to their home address, and mistakenly affiliated with numerous crimes, James and Threasa Arnold have had enough. The couple from the rural town of Potwin, Kansas are now suing for damages. The suit against MaxMind, a company that geo-targets and has built a database IP addresses and their physical locations, comes after years of police knocking on their door with search warrants at all hours of the night and people who were fraudulently abused on the internet coming to their house to extract information.
Arnolds want MaxMind to pay $75,000 for defaulting IP addresses to their secluded farm
The Arnolds are asking MaxMind corporation pay them $75,000 because the firm “placed them in a false light and invaded their privacy,” resulting in “great emotional distress, fear for their safety, and humiliation.”
The issue, first reported by Fusion in April 2016, involves MaxMind creating a default IP address when it could not map it to a specific location. This caused problems.
It just so happens that criminals often use IP addresses that do not match their actual geographical target. Thus, when an Internet schemer would perpetrate a crime with a location it could not map, in many cases it would point to a default location in the exact middle of the US: a small farm near Potwin, Kansas.
As a result, FBI agents, federal marshals, IRS collectors and even ambulances searching for suicide veterans and police looking for runaway children have knocked on the door at all hours of the night.
MaxMind picked a random location for a default IP address that was at the Arnold’s farm
In one case a Boston company, who had just been the victim of Internet crime, used MaxMind’s IP locator and came angrily knocking on the Arnold’s door looking for an explanation as to why they infected their email system with a virus.
In each case the Arnolds would be required to explain to often suspicious if not downright angry visitors that they had the wrong house.
“At that time, we picked a latitude and longitude that was in the center of the country, and it didn’t occur to us that people would use the database to attempt to locate people down to a household level,” MaxMind co-founder Thomas Mather, despite many of his customers using the database for this very activity.
After Fusion’s initial story, MaxMind changed the default location to a local lake. Now people who come late at night to catch cyber criminals might find they are all wet.